by Austin Montoya, Social Media and Online Coordinator

Dr. Vic Strecher, Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan, spoke of the difficulty of finding meaning in life after the death of his daughter. He spoke of many philosophers and how so many of us search for a purpose and meaning in life. “Those with purpose in life, live seven years longer than those who feel they lack it,” he said.

Seven years. That’s the same time difference between a smoker and a nonsmoker. Finding purpose and meaning in life has a direct affect on one’s health.

That was just one conversation that happened at this past 2015 Colorado Health Symposium, hosted by the Colorado Health Foundation, in beautiful Keystone, Colorado. The three days were spent talking about the status quo of our health care system, our communities, and culture, and how we can transform and create connections to benefit all Coloradans – ultimately, to become the healthiest state in the country.

The conversation about health and health care are not the same you may have heard about in many years past. It is not simply about health and illness in medical terms, or as something that starts at the doctor’s office, the hospital, or the pharmacy. We have learned about the importance of social, political, and economic factors that can affect our health.

See more pictures from #15CHS.

Elizabeth Rider, MSW, MD, demonstrated how the patient-doctor relationship can make a world of difference in one’s health. Improved patient outcomes come from skilled communication and a relationship with a patient,” she said. This becomes important when dealing with any patient, but especially important when dealing with minority or at-risk populations. For example, having trans-friendly and competent providers can dramatically improve trans Coloradans’ health; providers need to realize, “A patient is an expert in their own experience.”

Here at CCHI, we try to keep these social barriers in mind. Working to make sure insurance premium rates are justified, so consumers can afford to get the care they need, without feeling financial constraints; making sure consumers understand their insurance and the health care system, by creating; and making sure that providers are in their own communities and that their health network is accessible.

Among the many more themes, technology was also an important topic at #15CHS. Nancy Lubin, founder of the Crisis Text Line, talked on how allowing technology to provide mental health crisis intervention for teens and young adults has been beneficial to millions. Indu Subaiya, CEO of Health 2.0, showed how you could have hundreds of health “coaches” in the palm of your hand. Mobile applications like RunKeeper or Apple’s Health can keep your health on track and encourage better behaviors.

The Symposium was divided into three different focuses over its duration: Connecting Systems to Health Outcomes; Connecting Communities to Well-Being; and Connecting Values to Actions. So many more discussions happened throughout the three days, I cannot possibly recap everything; however, if you would like to view the live-recorded panel discussions and keynote speakers, check it out here:

I would like to personally thank the Colorado Health Foundation for allowing me the opportunity to participate in the Symposium, learn, and take back so much with me.

If you wish to have more information, please visit: or follow the hashtag #15CHS on Twitter!

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