The Future of Rural Health

Tue March 9th 2021, 2:00pm
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The Future of Rural Health

Dr. Phil Polakoff joins the Lane Center to discuss the recent initiatives led by his organization, Healthier Rural America. Healthier Rural America believes that progress is possible when rural communitites come together to rewrite prevailing narratives to reflect new ones of resilience and renewal; the rural American renaissance is coming. Before this, however, community leaders and citizens must first address, the places where people live, personal health, population health, public health, and the state of political will.

The Facts

  • Currently 60 million people live in rural America.
  • More than 172 rural hospitals have closed since 2005 with hundreds more at risk.
  • There is a real shortage of rural health care workers.
  • Broadband and Internet connectivity are often limited and need upgrading.
  • COVID-19 is having a huge negative health impact but is also causing some positive innovation.
  • The growing rural-urban gap in life expectancy

Dr. Polakoff will discuss the realities of life in rural communities, outline the seven foundational actions to be considered to instigate change, and explain why a new focus on leadership is necessary to realize his organization's goals.  Dr. Polakoff will be joined by Stanford student, Allen Huang, with conversation led by moderator, Preeti Hehmeyer.



Phillip Polakoff, MD

Dr. Phil Polakoff
Founder/CEO, A Healthier WE
Affiliated Scholar, The Bill Lane Center for the American West
Consulting Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Phil Polakoff’s distinguished career in health care spans 35 years. He is a health transformation advisor, and previously has worked in product and network development, care management, organizational and business development, policy formulation, communications and financing. He serves as the CEO and host of A Healthier We, a disruptive, innovative venture situated at the intersection of medicine/health and media. As an affiliated scholar at the Bill Lane Center, Dr. Polakoff is intimately involved with the Rural West initiative. In addition to his work at the Center, Dr. Polakoff is a consulting professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine. He is the author of five books and has published more than 200 articles.


A color photo of Allen Huang sitting on train tracks

Allen Huang, '21

Allen is a senior at Stanford studying Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics. Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he has been in the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program ever since coming to Stanford. For the past three years, he has been a part of an ASB focusing on health disparities in rural America as well as other aspects of the rural-urban divide. His goal is to explore these issues with fellow students and raise awareness for these issues that are often overlooked by the student body.



Preeti  Hehmeyer

Preeti Hehmeyer

Preeti is the current Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement at at Stanford’s Office of External Relations.  Until recently she was the Associate Director of the Bill Lane Center since 2015 where she lead the Center’s partnerships, programs, finances and administration. She convened faculty, researchers, students, alumni, and the broader community to advance the Lane Center’s work on a wide range of topics related to the American West. Preeti specializes in local government policy and was the driving force behind the Center’s collaborations with city managers in the Bay Area. She is also a lecturer in the Stanford Public Policy Program, where she teaches a project-based learning practicum course for graduating seniors.

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