Abbreviated from “opposite the editorial page,” an op-ed is a newspaper article that expresses a personal opinion on an issue from an interested party. Op-ed authors are unaffiliated with the newspaper staff. In fact, an op-ed can be written by anyone – from a respected authority to a concerned citizen. Here are the steps to write and place an op-ed focused on NHIT Week.
Be familiar with the outlet’s op-ed style. Before you write your op-ed, check the media outlet’s op-ed style guide (usually posted on the website). Depending on the outlet, typically op-eds are about 700 to 800 words. Op-eds often include a local angle to make it relevant to the newspaper’s reader and on occasion, they include a call to action. Op-eds can be placed in newspaper and also in nontraditional outlets, for example national websites like HuffingtonPost.com or locally at newjersey.com (if you live in New Jersey). Allow plenty of time to place the op-ed. Since you can only approach one outlet at a time awaiting their response on your exclusive op-ed before proceeding to the next outlet—and each may take a week or two to respond—you should allow four to eight weeks for placement.
·Determine the topic. An op-ed about National Health IT Week should discuss the benefits of health IT to the healthcare system and patient care, and include a local angle—how healthcare IT specifically benefits those in your city, state or region. Feel free to be creative and use local examples and other anecdotes to illustrate your points. Tell a story about how health IT has made a difference. Some examples of NHIT Week topics might include:
o Using a statistic or study, e.g. Frost & Sullivan research revealed that the EHR market was expected to increase from $1.3 billion in 2009, to $2.6 billion in 2012. (Google for the latest statistics.)
o Providing examples of patients who have been empowered by using health IT.
o Standardizing technology so that EHRs are truly interoperable.
o Addressing patient privacy and security using EHRs.
o Adopting new laws and regulations to support the wider use of health IT.
o Using EHRs to track disease outbreaks and public emergencies.
o Leveraging EHRs to reduce administrative costs and other waste.
· Identify a signatory. When writing an op-ed, the first step is to identify a signatory—someone who will sign the op-ed. The person signing the op-ed should be well respected and, if possible, well known. For example, he or she may be your organization’s CEO or CIO, a local official such as the head of your city or state’s public health system, or an elected official such as the mayor or a congressional representative.
· Write the op-ed. When writing the op-ed, feel free to use language provided in this toolkit and on the NHIT Week website.
·Obtain approvals. When the op-ed is written, seek approval from the signatory, your organization’s leaders and other stakeholders.
·Contact the media outlet. The next step is to contact the op-ed editor where you want to publish the op-ed. Let them know that you would like to send them an op-ed to recognize National Health IT Week and that you’ve included a local angle. Verify that you have the correct length of the op-ed, how, to whom and where to send it, and when you can expect a response.
·Revise the op-ed. Depending upon your discussion with the media outlet representative, it may be necessary to revise the op-ed. Make the revisions and send it in. If you are sending the op-ed by email, be sure to cut and paste the op-ed into the body of the email. Do not send the op-ed as an attachment, as many newsroom email systems will not accept attachments.