Stemming from a series of Rural West Conferences, hosted by Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, a recognition of the panoply of persistent challenges impacting rural health across the Western United States serves as the inspiration for A Healthier WE – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to addressing critical issues in rural health.

A Healthier WE (AHW), founded by Phil Polakoff, MD, MEnvSc, MPH, Consulting Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, takes as its organizing principle that “in these times, when ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even illness becomes wellness”.

Growing from the organization’s grounding in the American West and expertise in rural health, coupled with its extensive experience with the particularities of systemic change, A Healthier WE is structured to leverage the many strengths of stakeholders in rural health and focus them on the field’s most intractable problems.

AHW recognizes the groundswell of support for an ambitious initiative of broad enough scope to frame and face the central issues that affect the viability of rural public health – and in turn, life in the rural America as we know it.

Our organizing principle:
“In these times, when ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even illness becomes wellness.”


AHW takes as its mission the assembly of civic, faith, healthcare and citizen leadership at the community, county, state, regional, and federal level to address critical issues in rural health from a 360° perspective. To that end, AHW is launching an ambitious charrette-style initiative, beginning with the Healthier Rural West Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 19-21, 2019.

A Healthier WE is organized around four critical health action areas pertaining to fostering a healthier rural America. These action areas, based on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Action Framework, inform AHW’s objectives :

  • Making Health a Shared Value
  • Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration
  • Creating a Healthier, More Equitable Communities
  • Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems

AHW will continue to convene, collaborate, and commit rural stakeholders. Most importantly, AHW will help define initiatives needed to achieve solution-oriented health transformation objectives. Join us as we create a healthier rural America!

The Healthier Rural West Summit was held on March 19-21, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Summit, produced by A Healthier WE (not-for-profit organization) and co-sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare. It aims to address many key challenges by offering an inspiring vision of rural cooperation and leadership in the coming information and health economies.

This unique and highly interactive and participative Summit will draw 400 stakeholders from across health providers, policymakers, Rural
West public leaders: federal, state and county health directors, University policy, research, and teaching faculty, community activists, business and technology leaders, Health systems and payors. Over the course of two days, they will listen to inspiring talks, and participate in sessions to debate, discuss and formulate successful strategies for creating well-being in the West.

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