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"Upstream Health" - What's in a name?

Those with an upstream mindset are part of a movement. A movement with the objective of shifting the focus of health care upstream to tackle the root cause of the issues we face.

This movement has been around for some time, but it's now more important then ever that we support a shift in focus to preventative care, moving the spot light earlier in our patient and citizens journey through the system.

The story often told about upstream relates to a river:

A river is flowing with patients in it, struggling to get out and fast approaching a waterfall.

A man turns up and immediately jumps in. Swims to the waterfall edge and starts pulling people out. Despite all his effort people keep going over the edge.

A woman turns up and starts building rafts. They're making a bigger difference but the patients keep slipping by.

Finally someone turns up that swims past the the waters edge, the rafts and the patients. When challenged as to why they're not helping to pull patients out, they reply:

"I'm going Upstream, to stop the patients falling in, in the first place"

In the analogy our hospital clinicians are at the waterfall edge, doing all they can to help but at the point where patient conditions are already severe. Our primary care and community teams are the raft builders, and under increasing strain from the pressures we face. The upstream thinkers are those doing things like supporting clinicians to identify early indicators for long term conditions, focusing on social prescribing or supporting self management.

Upstream Health are proud to be part of the upstream movement, supporting the shift in focus. Providing technologies to support better collaboration and working with hospitals, both within the hospital and supporting patients post discharge to stay well at home. Alongside our population health approach to help prevent patients from needing to go to hospitals in the first place. Helping health and social care professionals to look upstream to the root cause of what makes people ill, and deliver tiered, targeted preventative care.

And here's a great video from an organisation based in Canada who have been at the forefront of Upstream Thinking for some time. Please check their website out for some insight on the great ideas and activities that are already taking place in this area (

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