At the dawn of the 21st century, information is transforming life, from the proliferation of dot-com businesses to the ever-growing presence of the Internet. But the increasing quantity of information has not led to higher quality information. Because of the rapid changes in health care and the increasing difficulty in understanding health policy issues, there is an ongoing need for better communication systems. Only then can the public can make more informed choices and become better advocates to improve our health care system.
Oregon Public Broadcasting, Northwest Health Foundation, and Oregon Health Forum have formed a partnership to create the three-part television series, “Taking the Pulse,” to educate Oregonians about complex health policy and public health issues. This public affairs program provides a venue for in-depth exploration of topics such as the alarming increase in youth suicide rates, the growing need for harnessing pharmaceutical costs, and the inevitable changes to the Oregon Health Plan as funding streams evaporate. It is the clear intent of this program to expand discussions about health issues beyond the “talking heads” to include consumers, and other individuals who are affected by the system.
By engaging the health care community, purchasers, and consumer groups, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Oregon Health Forum believe “Taking the Pulse” will enhance Oregonians’ level of understanding about our complex health care system, giving them an opportunity to not only ask questions, but have access to the latest health care news without the perspective of special interest groups, which, at times, dominate the media and present a one-sided view of issues. Oregon Public Broadcasting and Oregon Health Forum believe “Taking the Pulse” portrays health care issues from an objective perspective by relying on fairness, accuracy, and in-depth reporting. In such a way, Oregon can once again be seen as a leader in health care issues.
ABOUT THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Morgan Holm, OPB’s Director of News and Public Affairs, has been producing local broadcast news in Oregon for more than a decade. He began his career in public broadcasting at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon and then worked for two years at a commercial TV station in Medford as a reporter, producer, and anchor. Since arriving at OPB in 1990, he has developed and refined OPB’s local radio news program Oregon Considered and OPB’s weekly television public affairs program Seven Days. He currently serves as executive producer of both programs.
Mr. Holm’s work has been recognized with a number of awards, including a 1998 Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications for a Seven Days program on doctor-assisted suicide; Oregon Associated Press awards for Public Affairs radio programs in 1990, 1996, and 1999; and a 1996 1st Place award from the regional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana) for health/science reporting. He has served as executive producer of live studio productions during the 1996 and 1998 elections, and as executive producer of “Measure 11: Hard Choices, Hard Times”, all productions funded by PBS through its Democracy Project in a national competitive grant process. In addition to on-air work, Mr. Holm has also worked on the team responsible for OPB’s web site since its inception, and he oversees work on the news sections of OPB’s site on a daily basis.
Diane Lund-Muzikant is the founding editor and executive director of Oregon Health Forum, a position she has held since January 1991. Prior to that she was a freelance writer for numerous health care publications, both local and national, including the AMA News, HealthWeek, and Psychiatric Times. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a BA in Journalism and German, she spent 4 1/2 years overseas, primarily in Jerusalem, Israel where she worked for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Jerusalem Post. She moved to Portland in 1972 and later received her MS in Speech Communication from Portland State University. Besides her work for Oregon Health Forum, she is chairwoman of Rachel’s Friends Breast Cancer Coalition, which is dedicated to exploring the link between environmental toxins and breast cancer.
Lund-Muzikant completed a fellowship in 1995, which examined the dynamics of the health care system, sponsored by the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. She is the recipient of a presidential citation from the Multnomah County Medical Society for her insightful, timely, thoughtful, and accurate journalistic contributions to the “The Scribe” and was honored by Physicians for Social Responsibility with the group’s Broad Street Pump Award for her work educating children about the dangers of nuclear war. She also has received honors from Oregon Press Women.
Andrew Holtz is serving as consulting producer and moderator of “Taking the Pulse”. His work appears on the PBS television program HealthWeek; The Learning Channel’s Medical Detectives, InTouch Magazine, and web sites including WebMD.com and Reuters Health Information. He is a board member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, which is dedicated to helping journalists do a better job of covering health care issues. Mr. Holtz was a 1998 Kaiser Media Fellow. The Kaiser Family Foundation grant supported research into tobacco control campaigns, in conjunction with the Masters of Public Health studies at Portland State University and Oregon Health Sciences University.
Mr. Holtz was a medical reporter at CNN for 17 years and anchored discussions on topics including genetic research, the body’s internal clock, Alzheimer’s Disease and how the collapse of communism affected public health in Eastern Europe, He received a national Emmy award for his part in CNN’s coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing. Before joining CNN, Mr. Holtz was a reporter and lead anchor at KENI-TV in Anchorage, Alaska. He received his BA from Stanford University and majored in broadcast communication and was news director of the campus radio station. He minored in physics and his studies ranged from the philosophical problems of quantum mechanics to aerodynamics to the regulation of new telecommunications technology.
ABOUT THE PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS
Oregon Health Forum
Oregon Health Forum was organized in November 1990 to create an independent newsletter that would provide objective information about the latest developments in health policy for the purchasers and providers of health care. The board of directors and editorial staff believe that by publishing its newsletter, critical health policy issues have been brought to the forefront, allowing lawmakers in Washington DC and Oregon to have quality information to make decisions for the general public. The newsletter also contains a comprehensive calendar of health policy events in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
The first newsletter rolled off the presses in May 1991. Since then, Oregon Health Forum’s monthly newsletter has been successful in attracting over 1,400 subscribers from all aspects of the health care community. Readership surveys indicate the newsletter is read by over 10,000 people, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, including physicians, attorneys, labor leaders, health insurance executives, health insurance agents, government officials, state legislators, consumers, pharmaceutical representatives, librarians, health benefit consultants, employers, and hospital executives. The newsletter is valued by its subscribers and has an 80 percent retention rate.
A nine-member board of directors oversees the organization, however has no editorial oversight and advertisements are not allowed in the newsletter, which is supported entirely by subscription revenue.
To make certain Oregon’s lawmakers are kept informed of critical health policy issues, Oregon Health Forum sends complimentary copies to state legislators, the governor’s office and Oregon’s congressional delegation.
In addition to publishing a monthly newsletter, Oregon Health Forum holds monthly educational breakfast forums, publishes a resource guide listing the boards, commissions and agencies dealing with health care, and publishes financial reports about the Oregon Health Plan and hospitals in Oregon. Its web site has a synopsis of articles that appear in the newsletter along with information about upcoming breakfast forums.
Oregon Health Forum also honors health care leaders at its annual leadership dinner. In the past, awards have gone to Gov. John Kitzhaber, Dr. Ralph Crawshaw, Barney Speight, and Billi Odegaard.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Oregon Public Broadcasting is the state’s largest public broadcasting organization. It began in 1922 with the first wireless transmitter west of the Mississippi at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) in Corvallis. OPB Radio’s KOAC has featured educational and entertainment programming since it was licensed in 1925. KOAC-TV went on the air in 1957, followed by KOAP-TV in Portland four years later. By 1970, OPB had established its presence on television and radio throughout the state.
In 1993, OPB became a non-profit corporation instead of a state agency. Its mission is to enhance lifetime learning by producing and providing the highest quality education and information programs. OPB is one of the top ten producing stations for PBS, and OPB reporters are regular contributors to national radio news programs from National Public Radio and Public Radio International.
Northwest Health Foundation
Northwest Health Foundation is an independent private foundation, committed to advancing, supporting, and promoting the health of the people of Oregon and Southwest Washington. The foundation was established in late 1997 from the net proceeds of the sale of PACC Health Plans and PACC HMO. The foundation’s Board of Directors and staff bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to this responsibility.
From the very beginning, Northwest Health Foundation has taken a collaborative approach to understanding community health needs. Foundation’s Board and staff members have been actively building relationships with community groups and institutions interested in the foundation’s mission. To that end, it is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with members of the community, institutions, and groups that can provide the foundation with information and ideas on community health needs. The Northwest Health Foundation is proud to be a “Taking the Pulse” partner.