May 2018: Why the Secret to Healthcare Value Isn’t Value


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Vol 1 Issue 3

Dear friends,


“Value” is the watchword in health care these days, but lately I’ve been unable to shake the feeling that it leaves something missing. What we’re missing, as a recent article on the power of the physician-patient relationship put it, is meaning.


Don’t get me wrong. The transition from volume to value, clunky and complicated as it is, is long overdue. It’s created exciting opportunities to demonstrate how an understanding of social determinants of health can lead to a better standard of care.


But if we gauge our success only by current metrics of costs, utilization, and return on investment, we will lose the opportunity to build a model of medicine that means even more.


The purpose of screening for social needs is not just to inform our care models and add value to the healthcare bottom line. It is fundamentally about understanding the person in front of us, their family and community. It is about seeing what brings them meaning.


Those of us who give care need meaning just as much as those who receive it. The daily churn of charting and procedures does not feed our essential need to connect with others and know them well enough to touch their lives. Understanding their social context and having time to make a more personal difference does. (And it may even, in the long run, save money).


This month, we’re proud of the trainings and workshops that show how addressing social determinants can improve value while restoring a sense of meaning:


  • In Minnesota, we worked with Allina Health to bring their Whole Person Care approach to the frontlines through workshops aimed at uncovering the ways we can better understand and connect with each other.
  • With the Connecticut Hospital Association we provided hands-on workshops that helped member hospitals learn how to create meaningful impact on social determinants through effective clinical-community partnerships.  
  • Our webinar series on optimizing community health investments launched in May and continues in June. Stay tuned for details on the next event.
  • On June 5, I’m honored to be giving the Luther Terry keynote at a meeting of the Commissioned Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service, led by the Surgeon General. Luther Terry, the 9th U.S. Surgeon General, was the first to call out tobacco as a pressing public health concern and helped shape our understanding of social and political determinants of health.

At HealthBegins, we’re pursuing the vision of value and meaning with renewed vigor. We’ll get there with you, together.



Rishi Manchanda

New from The Upstreamist, the HealthBegins Blog:

A One-Time Medical Assistant Empowers Rural Clinics to Meet Social Needs for the Homeless

Upstreamist in Action: Dana Valley discovered early in her career how intimately social needs affect medical health, especially for the homeless. Now she spearheads a data-driven effort to identify and meet those needs — and shares the new social-determinants questionnaire that her clinics use with patients.

The Simple Intervention That’s Helping Solve Social Needs in One of America’s Most Diverse Counties

Pharmaceutical companies first used this technique to weave their products into doctors’ prescribing habits. Now social-medicine advocates are adapting it to improve upstream care. In one California clinic, this Community Health Detailing increased referrals to social services more than 15-fold in just four months.

A Health-Plan Executive Tears Down Walls to Unify Medical and Behavioral Care

Upstreamist in Action: Jennifer Sayles incentivizes clinics to build complex-care teams whose work is as integrated as patients’ needs are. Patients in the program are already seeing lower blood pressure, blood glucose, and depression.

Coming soon! Watch for an invite to our June webinar:

Designing and Financing Sustainable Community Health Investments

The first webinar in our community health investment series set forth a roadmap to identify early wins. Next, we’ll go deeper, describing operational and financing strategies that empower you to establish sustainable partnerships with community organizations. Taken together, these approaches can help move community health investment forward, turning short-term progress into lasting change.

Upcoming Events: Find HealthBegins Here

U.S Public Health Service Symposium
June 4-7 | Dallas
Commissioned Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service meet for training and networking under the theme: “Ensuring Health for Generations to Come: Science Matters.” HealthBegins founder Dr. Rishi Manchanda presents the Luther Terry keynote. NASCO 2018 Converge
June 11-14 | Miami Beach

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans come together to network and share best practices and resources.

AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting
June 24-26 | Seattle

Healthcare professionals and experts engage in powerful discussions around research, policy, and practice. On June 24, HealthBegins and AcademyHealth lead a special session exploring how equity, diversity, and inclusion work intersects with efforts to address social determinants of health.

Upstream News

Curated highlights of happenings affecting upstream care. Links are not endorsements.

Kaiser Permanente invests $200 million to address housing
Los Angeles Times

Social Determinants of Health Dashboard extends to 500 Cities

Want a More Equitable City? Try Food-Oriented Design

How West Virginia Is Crunching Data on Social Conditions and Opioids
Covering Health blog

What Explains the Rising Overdose Rate Among Latinos?
Kaiser Health News

Will We Still Be Relevant ‘When We’re 64’?
Kaiser Health News

Amid Intense National Scrutiny Over Immigration, Advocates in the Rio Grande Valley Are Waging a Quieter War for the Region’s Health
U.S. News & World Report

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