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Stitching Together Chronic Conditions, Grand Challenges, and Plans of Work

By Trish Olson, Director of Programs

I like to put things together. I guess that’s what quilters do. As I drove to work one day last week and heard about the new Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) report on the prevalence and cost of chronic medical conditions, these statistics really caught my attention:
  • In 2012, 35.4 percent of insured Minnesota residents had at least one diagnosed chronic condition.
  • Minnesotans with diagnosed chronic conditions accounted for 83.1 percent of all medical spending in the state in 2012, with those who had five or more chronic conditions (5.6 percent of the population) accounting for 36 percent of all medical spending.
  •  Annual per-person medical spending for Minnesotans with one or more chronic conditions was, on average, eight times higher than that of residents with no chronic condition.
Then I thought about the University of Minnesota’s call to solve the Grand Challenges of a Diverse and Changing World by marshaling the University’s research and creative capacity to address major challenges in our state, nation, and world. “Well,” I thought, “the MDH report certainly identified a grand challenge!” It’s also a challenge that we in Family Development can help meet through our health and nutrition programs, and our family resiliency programs, too.

Then I thought of another thing connected to the MDH report and the University’s call. Last Friday was the deadline for many of us to submit both our 2016 Plan of Work and our Performance Evaluation of what we have done in 2015. My hope, as Director of Programs, is that each of us sees our role in solving Minnesota’s grand challenges. What’s more, I hope you began work in 2015 to fill your role in solving Minnesota’s grand challenges, and that you included goals in your 2016 Plan of Work to continue that work.

In order to be a part of the solution we must be aware of the challenges, make a plan, and most important — follow through on the plan. My best to you as you embrace your important role in creating a better Minnesota.

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