Achille Bianchi

Healthy City Summit focuses on preventative care, innovation for progress

DETROIT — Packed with health professionals, officials, advocates, social entrepreneurs and Detroit admirers alike, the June 8 Healthy City Summit was a fun and educational endeavor that focused on the future of Detroit's health and progress.

Hosted by Enterprise Health, a business accelerator created to support social entrepreneurs seeking to improve health in Detroit, the Summit, held at the Wayne State University Law Auditorium, featured panel discussions with a "who's who of health and social entrepreneurship," as described by one Twitter user.

Focusing on the health of the of the city as well as its residents, speakers and moderators touched on how we can use technology, innovation and business solutions to solve pressing social dilemmas.

“Innovation is really important,” says Reverend Barry Randolph, senior Pastor for the Church of the Messiah in Detroit. However, “you have to get with people who are of a like mindset — then anything is possible. If you are called to do a great thing, nothing can stop with you from doing it.”

With an emphasis on doing good, as well as taking whatever opportunities we can to improve the health in our communities, the conference was very much geared towards how individuals and those with good ideas have the power to make huge strides in the progress of our cities and health systems.

The first panel, Digital Demonstration of New Possibilities for Health & Healthcare, included new ideas and strategies professionals might employ to education citizens about good health and preventative healthcare. Technology and efficiency are at the foundation of these ideas as well as how supporting small and individual ideas can affect huge changes.

It’s about “the entrepreneur allowing business to not maximize shareholder value, but to become a calling and something greater than one's self. I'm seeing that as a generational and cultural trend. I'd love to see this continue — people were hungry for that anyway. Having an impact that goes way beyond your individual self is huge.”

During the Future of Health panel discussion, members said our current health systems employed only 10 percent preventative health care tactics, and was dependent on reactionary health care, such as medications and surgeries.

They described this as a poor model to manage the health of our growing populations and communities. Preventative health care, as they described, means taking responsibility for your health, by eating healthy and exercising, and not relying on doctor and hospital visits for fixing your health once it's turned sour.

But, it may not be our fault, either, they suggest. Speakers said we haven't exactly created an environment where the easiest choice is the healthiest choice — which our car-dependent culture has certainly illustrated.

The panel had seven areas we can improve our health: Less tobacco, alcohol and drugs; better nutrition; taking measures to improve your mental and reproductive health; more activity; and doing things that provide us with more energy.

With regards to health systems, one attendee said, "We look forward to the paradigm shift of healthcare providers being rewarded for keeping people out of medical facilities." This is absolutely illustrative of the model of preventative health care, which is heavily reliant on your lifestyle choices, the panel said.

In the next presentation, David Bornstein, one of the event's keynote speakers and author of Social Entrepreneurship: What everyone needs to know, presented the idea of positive deviance to the crowd. He says, “We need to help the positive deviances become leaders in their communities."

Positive deviance engages the ideas generated from within a local community and are generally on the forefront of social change and innovation. Not necessarily mainstream, positive deviance uses context-sensitive solutions to solve problems, not blanket solutions, which is a good thing.

Switching gears after lunch, the presentation on Social Entrepreneurs and Innovators in Action talked with local business owners and advocates about the importance of capitalizing on good ideas and social stewardship.

“What's happening is that people are allowing themselves to let their businesses become something more,” said Marlo Rencher, CEO of Mende Media. It’s about “the entrepreneur allowing business to not maximize shareholder value, but to become a calling and something greater than one's self. I'm seeing that as a generational and cultural trend. I'd love to see this continue — people were hungry for that anyway. Having an impact that goes way beyond your individual self is huge.”

Rencher’s comment is illustrates the goal of the summit as a whole: Letting business and business practices become more than being about the bottom dollar, but more about attaining top morals and values that are beneficial to all and in all aspects of life, including health.

The final featured discussion of the summit was how innovators can better shape their ideas and goals through Enterprising Health's Fellowship Program.

The fellowship is a five-month, rigorous training session for entrepreneurs and innovators for business coaching, business plan development and how to best implement their ideas.

The idea is to help launch businesses promoting positive social and health change to "better the quality of life for Detroiters," because, "being productive is the only way to change our city."

For a breakdown of the day’s agenda and a full list of panel speakers and participants, click here.

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