Cross-posted from High Performance Health Care
By Stephanie Hegland, Health Care UST MBA ’12
What started as a health care policy class last spring for Health Care UST MBA students Laura Templin-Howk and Tina Morey, culminated September 28, 2012, in the Healthy Minnesota: Communities in Action Poster Session and Forum, featuring closing remarks by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. Inspired while being in Washington D.C. during the arguments before the Supreme Court on the legality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and encouraged by the legislation’s financial support for proactive, preventive measures (Title IV, Subsection D, “Creating Healthier Communities”), Templin-Howk and Morey sought to showcase Minnesota’s trailblazing community-driven initiatives. And showcase they did, by pulling together 40 examples of why Minnesota continues to lead the nation in healthcare innovation.
Community-led projects throughout the state highlighted the work already being done to improve the health of our communities. Each poster presenter spoke to their projects’ individual mission, success and lessons learned. View the event program, with descriptions and contact information for each project. These projects frequently showcased partnerships between communities, healthcare providers and systems, ancillary providers, community agencies and school districts. Let’s face it; it’s not a secret that greater physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables, regular health screenings, and increased collaboration between providers leads to improved health outcomes for the state’s population. But how to accomplish these improvements? Therein lies the challenge. And further, how will policies, systems and environmental changes be modified to sustain these improvements?
In addition to the posters, a panel of presenters, moderated by Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Edward Ehlinger, discussed what was learned while implementing the community-led initiatives of Allina’s Healthy Communities Partnership, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s do.town, Hennepin County’s Hennepin Health and New Ulm’s Hearts Beat Back. Dr. Ehlinger kicked off the discussion by calling for a need to balance healthcare investment between treatment and prevention, and to create healthier communities that make it easy for individuals to make the healthy choice the easy choice. According to Dr. Ehlinger, 40% of behavior that impacts health occurs where we live, work, play, learn and pray. It is these types of initiatives, occurring in the community, which set the stage to change the policies that will lead to improved health outcomes for all citizens.
Some key discussion points addressed by the panel:
Senator Dave Durenberger concluded the discussion by saying “these projects bring out the ‘we’ instead of me”, and introduced Dr. Regina Benjamin. She complimented the panel and poster presenters for representing many of the strategies outlined by the National Prevention Council. And she congratulated Templin-Howk and Morey for demonstrating the leadership needed to engage all communities toward improved health.