I am pleased to announce that after twenty-five years as a bimonthly print journal and six years in online publishing, Health Affairs has entered the blogosphere as a new means of engaging readers in the health policy debate. The journal is all about an ongoing dialogue on health policy issues of concern to a diverse audience of interested readers.

This blog should enable the journal to move beyond the 4,000-word research paper into a new realm: thoughtful, focused comments in the 500-to-1,000-word range on topics that scan the health policy horizon. These are the kinds of comments one would share in a conversation, at a meeting, in a strategy session, in a letter to the editor. But now a much wider audience can join the conversation in an interactive online format.

How does the blog differ from the journal?

Unlike Health Affairs’ current print and online content, the blog will not be peer-reviewed, and we are cognizant of the concerns some might have about whether this move would detract from the work of a scholarly journal. However, to our way of thinking, this blog provides a timely opportunity to extend the kind of debates journals have long presented in Letters to the Editor, but in a new online medium and to a more far-reaching community.

Moreover, we have been impressed with the many thoughtful blogs that have appeared in recent years, and we do not believe that the more-free-wheeling discussion a blog offers must come at the expense of accountability and civility. Anyone who posts or comments on the Health Affairs blog will be required to register and agree to the terms of use, including the use of one’s real name as a user name, not pseudonymns. All posts and comments will be vetted by the journal’s editors before they appear on the blog, and we will filter comments for appropriateness and language.

We are also excited about the blog as a new medium for sharing some of the information that flows through our editorial office. With our September/October 2006 issue, we are no longer publishing a print roundup of new publications and reports in the journal’s UpDate section. Instead, we will seek to exploit the connectivity of the blog to point readers to new information in a more timely way.

What will the blog include?

At the outset, Health Affairs plans to experiment with the blog. Some posts will be clustered around a hot topic. Some will be one-time postings on news items of current interest. Linking and interactivity will be key. Both staff editors and outside experts will be contributing original items to the blog. The staff-written posts will be context-setting rather than opinion-based and will point to timely information both within the journal and from other sources. This is an extension of our introductory “Prologues” that we have published in the journal since 1981.

With the posts from health policy experts, our goal is to offer a range of views, not to push a particular agenda. Just as nonpartisanship is the hallmark of the journal, so it will be with the blog. While individual commentators may present strong viewpoints and all readers are welcome to comment, we ask that everyone keep this cordial and productive.

New content will be posted on the blog at least weekly. We encourage you to sign up for e-mail alerts or an RSS feed to be alerted when new content is posted at www.healthaffairs.org/blog. For more details about Health Affairs’ blog, see our page About the Blog. Come join us in this new venture, and let us know how we are doing.