Crossing the Continental Divides – Transitioning from Crises to Well-Being

March 3, 2019

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad which occurred at Promontory Point, West of Ogden, Utah. The event culminated with the driving of a ceremonial golden spike, engraved with a paean to ‘the unity of our Country, as this Railroad unites the two great oceans of the world’. The spike was driven by Leland Stanford, formerly the Governor of California, then the president of the Central Pacific Railroad, later the founder of Stanford University.

The same motivations – conveying people across continental divides in the spirit of unity – are operative in the Healthier Rural West Summit, taking place March 19-21, 2019 at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Summit builds on momentum from 2018, when Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West convened a workshop to devise strategies for improving health care and wellness in the rural West, entitled ‘Improving Health and Health Care in the Rural American West’. That workshop featured a commencement statement by Phil Polakoff, Consulting Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and Affiliated Scholar at the Center.

Dr. Polakoff recognized a series of persistent divides hampering care coordination, efficacy, and efficiency in rural health. Inequities between socio-demographic groups, geographic isolation, and differential distribution of the social determinants of health conspire to build up silos among stakeholders, and lead to a fragmented system of health and healthcare delivery. As a result, ‘a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans’ has opened, mirrored by analogous gaps in health status and life expectancy between generations, broadband availability and adoption – creating tech ‘haves and have-nots’ between regions, and >

    At the granular level:

  • Rural residents are poorer on average; per capita incomes are >$7,000 lower than for urban residents
  • Rural life expectancy – male and female – is approximately two years less than for urban residents
  • Only about ten percent of physicians practice in rural America despite the fact that nearly one-fourth of the population lives in these areas

To transition from these crises to well-being, bridging divides is a necessary precondition. The Healthier Rural West Summit is therefore structured to Convene key stakeholders, Connect thought and opinion leaders with practitioners and community members, Communicate nascent issues and lessons learned, foster Collaboration, and secure Commitments from relevant parties throughout the Rural West.

Join us for The Healthier Rural West Summit. The Summit is a two-day, strategic gathering of stakeholders from across the Rural West that will offer participants an inspiring vision of rural cooperation and leadership in the information and health economies. Get your ticket at
Given the gravity of the health challenges facing those of us who call the Rural West home, transitioning from crisis to well-being will require significant mutual effort. “In these times, if ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even illness becomes wellness.”


A Healthier WE Announces Inaugural Healthier Rural West Summit

Transitioning from Crisis to Wellbeing: The Summit will bring together more than 400 key stakeholders to address challenges facing the health and wellbeing of America’s rural West

Healthier Rural West Summit is pleased to announce a growing and well-respected list of sponsors, patrons and speakers. This inaugural event, being held March 19-21, 2019, at Little America in Salt Lake City, will address key challenges to the health and wellbeing of the rural American West by offering an inspiring vision of rural cooperation and leadership in the coming information and health economies.

A Healthier WE, a nonprofit organization which is a catalyst for finding innovative solutions and opportunities through partnerships and collaborations among changemakers, is producing the Summit in collaboration with Founding Sponsor, Intermountain Healthcare, along with the following list of sponsors and patrons:

Zions Bank, DMBA, Cambia Health Foundation, University of Utah, Utah Department of Health, Stanford University The Bill Lane Center for the American West, Little America, Utah Hospital Association, Morgan Stanley, Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Johnson & Johnson, and Goldman Sachs.

The Summit will include 80+ speakers and presenters who will discuss, debate and offer incubator initiatives focusing on solving the health, economic and environmental crises in the rural American West. Confirmed speakers include:

Marc Harrison, MD, President and CEO Intermountain Healthcare

David Kennedy, PhD, Co-Founder, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University

Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, State of Washington

Spencer Cox, Lt. Governor, State of Utah

Michael Good, MD, CEO University of Utah Health

In a highly participative format, more than 400 state and local government officials, nonprofit, faith and community activists, health system payors and providers, physicians, nurses and health caregivers, technology and business innovators, along with academic and thought leaders, will listen to inspiring talks and participate in interactive sessions to formulate successful strategies for creating wellbeing in the West.

This event is designed to foster a collaborative and critical problem-solving environment, focused on dialogue and action. Building on the theme of Transitioning from Crisis to Wellbeing, the outcomes will focus on four main health action pillars:

This event is designed to foster a collaborative and critical problem-solving environment, focused on dialogue and action. Building on the theme of Transitioning from Crisis to Wellbeing, the outcomes will focus on four main health action pillars:

• Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities

• Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration

• Making Health a Shared Value

• Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems

The Summit will hold a closing pitch competition to select five or more rural health innovative initiatives that merit incubation to a deliverable state under the direction of A Healthier WE. 

Phil Polakoff, MD, CEO of A Healthier WE and Consulting Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, said “We are excited to partner with key stakeholders in rural health and healthcare. We look forward to forming critical relationships with the wide range of leaders who are committed to transitioning from crisis to wellbeing.” 

If you have any questions regarding information in these press releases please contact the company listed in the press release. Our complete disclaimer appears here 

Contact Information Phil Polakoff A Healthier WE 510-508-9216 

The Healthier Rural West Resource Guide is intended to serve as a pre-reading primer for conference attendees; highlight the vital contributions of individuals and organizations whose efforts have been shown to be effective in improving rural health; serve as a repository and clearinghouse for useful tools; and to disseminate actionable information on both looming challenges and time-tested solutions.

UNCOMMON DIALOGUE: Improving Health and Health Care in the Rural West

A presentation by Phil Polakoff MD, Affiliated Scholar, The Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University

Lessons Learned From and For Rural Health

A Care Redesign Survey by Amy Compton-Phillips, MD Providence St. Joseph Health and Namita Seth Mohta, MD NEJM Catalyst

Listen to Dr. Phil Polakoff’s podcast on Future/Hindsight

We discuss how an emphasis on prevention coupled with innovations in healthcare access and delivery can help us share greater health and equity for all Americans.

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