The 11th Annual Regional Health Conference, titled “The Region’s Health and Health Care Systems: Communities Achieving Excellence and Moving Upstream,” was held at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) on Jan. 24. Coordinated by the Mid Central Michigan Area Health Education Center, the Hospital Council of East Central Michigan, the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, and SVSU.

Speakers included Rishi Manchanda, M.D., president and CEO, Health Begins and Brian C. Castrucci, MA, DrPH; president and CEO, de Beaumont Foundation. Both speakers are exceptional pioneers in their fields and provide unprecedented leadership and innovation in upstream health efforts, routinely breaking the mold of past approaches.The information they provided at the event included rationale, frameworks and actions for upstream approaches from both clinical and public health perspectives and emphasized the imperative to collaborate.

Physicians, healthcare providers, public health representatives, educators, students, social workers, and more made up a group of around 300 attendees. Despite the variety of professions represented, the two presenters encouraged a common goal of creating a healthier community by improving social factors and building broad, strong partnerships.

Dr. Manchanda strives to help health care providers and community partners improve delivery of care and then address social factors that contribute to bad health outcomes. With the goal to reduce health care utilization and cost, Dr. Manchanda strives for health care institutions to move upstream. Explained by Dr. Manchanda as, “Continuously improving social drivers of health and equity at all levels”, moving upstream means understanding the social factors that are causing distress for the patient’s in your community. Conference attendees were encouraged to make decisions that affect not only the patient right in front of you but seeking for broader change that determines the structure of healthcare.

Understanding the lack of time and resources that physicians face it is essential, Dr. Marchanda explained, to put together a charting course as outlined below:

  • Identify your priority population – The more precise the definition the better
  • Priority social driver of health and equity- For that population what is the main social driver?
  • Goals and relevant solutions- Identify who the social driver is and then set the goals
  • Early Wins
  • Roadmap to achieve early wins

Dr. Manchanda encouraged building a strategy and then managing your efforts like you would your retirement fund. Diversify and track your best investments to decide how to continue moving forward.

Continuing with the goal of moving Upstream but from a different perspective, Dr. Brian Castrucci, the President and CEO of de Beaumont Foundation, has spent time working in state and local health departments. Dr. Castrucci reminded that, “Privileged and non-privileged alike deserve equal care. We need to seek solutions that not only help patient A, but also patient B. Meeting the needs of one individual falls short of addressing social determinants of health. We must build the foundation of community health and then continue to build on to the strong foundation.”

Using the metaphor of a fish tank, Dr. Castrucci explained that we can’t just care for our fish and then never clean the tank, they will remain unhealthy without the base step of cleaning the tank. Brian shared the critical shift of focusing on policy and partnerships versus pills and procedures will help us see a better future for ALL in a community. “We know the factors causing homelessness and food insecurity. We have to make it a priority to come together politically to conquer these issues and give our community a strong health foundation to build upon.”

For more information on both speakers and to view their presentation slide decks, please view the links below:

Brian Castrucci, MA, DrPH
de Beaumont Foundation
View Presentation Slide Deck

Rishi Manchanda, MD, MPH
Health Begins
View Presentation Slide Deck