UPMC Health Plan


Bill Ries
UPMC Health Plan


UPMC Health Plan and Postindustrial Launch “Good Health, Better World” Podcast

8-episode series discusses social determinants’ impact on health disparities in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh (Dec. 9, 2020) – UPMC Health Plan and Postindustrial this week launched their “Good Health, Better World” podcast series that focuses on “social determinants of health” and builds upon the community-based health initiatives launched by the UPMC Center for Social Impact. Hosted by Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH, Associate Vice President, Population Health and Clinical Transformation for UPMC Health Plan, the eight-episode series convenes conversations with community leaders, government stakeholders, and health care experts on the relationship between social and environmental factors and health, especially in light of how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues of health disparities and equity.

“So much of what influences our health occurs outside the context of the medical system,” said Beckjord. “On the ‘Good Health, Better World’ podcast, we investigate those influencers through discussions with leaders who are working to identify the challenges and the actions that are being taken–or are needed–to better address these ‘social determinants of health.’”

UPMC and UPMC Health Plan comprise an integrated delivery and financing system, which seeks to align incentives to focus on the health of the patient. The podcast furthers how this value-based concept of integrating physical and behavioral care can expand to include ways to address social determinants to improve both community and individual health. As an independent media outlet covering the changing face of American’s postindustrial and Appalachian regions, podcast partner, Postindustrial helps enhance this community-based focus on good health.

“Managing chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, represents one of our largest public health challenges,” said Ray Prushnok, Executive Director, UPMC Center for Social Impact, noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that eight in ten Americans have a chronic disease and four in ten have multiple chronic conditions. “Preventing or successfully managing these conditions is crucial to good health and cannot be accomplished without addressing social factors. As the podcast episodes reveal, we all have a role in making not just ourselves, but our communities, healthier and stronger.”

Each podcast will focus on one broad topic—such as employment, housing, maternal health, and inclusive care for the LGBTQ+ community—and community and policy solutions either underway or needed to address challenges and gaps in each area. Guests include Congressman Robin Kelly (D-IL), a policy leader in addressing maternal health disparities, especially in the Black community; Pennsylvania Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller; Kate Berry, Senior Vice President of Clinical Innovation at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP); and Father Paul Abernathy, CEO of the Neighborhood Resilience Project.

“To truly address health care disparities, we must have thoughtful, challenging conversations about the root causes of social determinants that influence inequities in areas such as maternal health care or homelessness,” said Prushnok. “We are grateful to the ‘Good Health, Better World’ podcast guests who were willing to take these issues head on and provide great insights on how we can move forward with meaningful progress.”

The first episode, “Improving Health as a Community,” is available now on the “Good Health, Better World” podcast page, which also provides additional resources on each episode’s topics and guests. Future episodes will be released weekly and will be available on the podcast site.


About the UPMC Center for Social Impact

The UPMC Center for Social Impact was launched in 2019 to coordinate, evaluate, and expand programming and innovations that address both the social needs and social determinants of the communities UPMC serves. The Center for Social Impact will begin with a focus on three key domains: addressing social needs, coordinating and expanding access to benefits and supporting underserved communities. Activities pursued by the Center will fall into one, two, or all of these categories. Examples include housing, employment and workforce training, improved service coordination with local government, rural health care and addressing the unique needs of underserved populations.