From 1998 to 2001, Spartanburg, S.C.-based Hedrick Smith Productions, headed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith, produced two PBS programs examining managed care and other major health care issues. They also conducted an outreach campaign in connection with the programs.
The project had the following results:
- Critical Condition with Hedrick Smith, a three-hour documentary which aired on October 18, 2000, explored four issues:
- Medical errors and medical quality.
- Care of the chronically ill.
- The promise and experience of managed care.
- The problems of the uninsured.
- Almost 300 PBS stations carried the program, and some 5.3 million viewers watched all or part of it, according to Nielsen Media Research.
- To augment the documentary, Hedrick Smith Productions and South Carolina Educational Television conducted an educational outreach campaign, which included:
- Mini-grants to 13 regional PBS stations to produce local programs linked to the national broadcast.
- Partnerships with national organizations.
- The creation of a Patient Advocacy kit.
- A program Web site, which attracted over one million users in the first month after the broadcast.
- Smith also hosted a live webcast symposium on health care issues at the National Press Club two days before the Critical Condition broadcast.
- A one-hour companion program, Dr. Solomon's Dilemma, focused on the ethical challenges facing physicians trying to balance the competing demands of cost control and providing appropriate care under managed care; it aired as part of the Frontline series on April 9, 2000, and was repeated the night after Critical Condition appeared.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through two grants totaling $2,253,226 to the ETV Endowment of South Carolina, which served as the financial and reporting agency for the project.
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