Takeaways from HERO Health in Portland, Oregon – September 9-12, 2019


a woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera


Mary Beth Basu, CHC, RDN, LDN
Account Executive

Time: 2 min


This year’s HERO conference brought together health and well-being experts from public, private and nonprofit sectors. We explored how collaboration and partnerships improve our efforts to improve health. Each day of the conference was packed with superb breakout sessions showcasing success stories and fascinating research. Today, I’m sharing three important messages that we can all take back and incorporate into our efforts in the health and well-being space. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Brian Castrucci of de Beaumont Foundation shared his impressions on how widening disparities in the US are making health improvement efforts harder. The current climate requires stakeholders to coordinate and work together. So, why is now the ideal time to focus on collaborating?

    1. Public, private and nonprofit sectors are all affected by the same trends
    2. Almost everyone faces resource limitations 
    3. We all have new tools for measuring and collecting data
    4. We know we can do more together.

How do we begin to address challenges in collaborating and building new partnerships?

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Andrea Walsh of HealthPartners. Key tips we can all take with us include:

    1. Think long-term and engage community partners to define problems and create solutions
    2. Start small and pilot to learn, implementing and improving the model through iteration
    3. Stay positive to persevere, building on what works and letting go of what doesn’t

Know thy population.

In my notebook, I had written: “Focus on metrics that matter to employees and employers alike!” HERO showcases best-in-class employer wellness programs. It’s a great place to learn from other organizations about defining problems, implementing solutions, positive outcomes and lessons learned. I was struck by the degree to which this year’s employer presentations spoke to the benefits of an employee-oriented approach. This included:

    1. Leveraging data from employee surveys and health plan spending to garner internal leadership support.
    2. Developing strategic communication plans to reach a specific workforce. Also, understanding what a “day in the life” of the employee looks like. 
    3. Unlocking individuals’ barriers and offering 1:1 coaching to meet people where they are.

This year’s HERO conference drove home the point that relationships are key to coordinating change in individuals, organizations, and communities. So let’s continue the conversation! Connect with me on LinkedIn or by emailing marybeth@packhealth.com.