The Top 10 Health Stories of 2009

Posted by: in Healthcare Insights on January 6, 2010

When it comes to staying on top of the collective news cycle, accurately tracking and knowing the stories that prompt conversation is the key. Being connected to the audience and their interests is impossible without an understanding of what has mattered in the past.

Health reform on Capitol Hill, the H1N1 virus, breakthroughs in cancer and obesity research, and the merging of Pfizer and Wyeth into the world’s largest pharma company were all big news in 2009.

While several organizations have done a nice job of synthesizing the top issues driving healthcare news coverage this past year (Harvard Health Letter, Time Magazine), our Media and Technology group went a step further to examine the exact articles that had the greatest impact online.

Starting from a list of more than 500 news articles and blog posts, WCG developed a simple algorithm to zero in on the Top 10 stories from 2009.  The ranking, highlighted below, considers factors such as the number of websites that link to an article, how many people commented on it, how broadly it was disseminated in Twitter and top social bookmarking sites, and how many websites referenced the article’s headline.

We look forward to discussing with you more about how we arrived at the Top 10 and using similar analytics and approaches as we continue to innovate new ways of analyzing what drives influence online.  Please use the Comments section below to add your thoughts.

Top 10 Stories of 2009

Rank Index* Headline Author Outlet
1 100 House Democrats pass health-care bill Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray Washington Post
2 59.36922 Why We Need Health Care Reform Barrack Obama NY Times
3 56.66738 Obama signs massive, ‘imperfect’ spending bill Danny DeFreitas (Deputy Editor) MSNBC
4 48.59569 Congress Slams Panel for New Mammogram Guidelines John McKenzie and John Parkinson ABC News
5 42.31632 HIV/AIDS: The incurable epidemic Fred Hiatt (Editor) Washington Post
6 34.41015 24 hours in the ER’ shows challenges of health system Susan Page, Marisol Bello, John Fritze, Mary Brophy Marcus and Liz Szabo USA Today
7 34.22327 WHO raises pandemic alert to second-highest level Vital Signs Blog–Contributors Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Barbara Starr CNN
8 28.60779 Senate Blocks Use of New Mammogram Guidelines David M. Herszehorn NY Times Prescriptions Blog
9 27.43842 New guidelines: Pap smears can start at 21 Julia Sommerfeld (Editor) MSNBC
10 18.03716 Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban CBS News Associated Press

*Index: the measure that defines the relative impact of each article when compared with all of the articles collected from 2009; This is the final output from the algorithm describes above.This list brings to life the common concerns and interest of the broad healthcare audience. This ranges from the average person who simply keeps up with the news to the top health industry executive who never stops monitoring the issues. Now, what will the focus be in 2010? It’s impossible to know, but I leave you with the proof that news flow matters and the stories the audience chooses are what drives it.

By: Sally Bage


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  1. Top 25 Websites for Women | Common Sense linked to this post on August 5, 2010

    […] previously in Sally Bage’s Top 10 Health Stories of 2009 story, WCG developed a simple algorithm to zero in on the top websites for women. The ranking, […]

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