• Believe in the power of the story

  • Look for positive deviance

  • Think long-term

  • Design systems to effect change


Meeting the person behind the patient at the source of health

Using human-centered design, Upstream Health Innovations seeks to empower patients to lead healthy lives, partners with the community to build capacity and fosters the health innovations that create equity and improve outcomes.

We envision a future where health is managed proactively within the community rather than reactively within the healthcare system. A future in which meaningful conversations about health are not confined to the clinic. And a future that redefines primary care as that which happens upstream—in homes and communities. Upstream Health Innovations is taking steps towards creating a future where people realize their full potential because the barriers to health have been recognized and removed.

Upstream Health Innovations is focused on Hennepin Health System’s safety net mission of creating and delivering health for all patients—regardless of economic or social circumstances.

Our mission is to move healthcare upstream and transform our current healthcare model into one truly centered around people.

We’re doing it by

Bringing together clinicians, patients, staff and community partners to understand the needs and opportunities facing our patients and maximize our ability to offer unparalleled care.

Engaging patients to actively partner in their care and replacing conventional authoritative relationships with a collaborative, team-based approach.

Recognizing community relationships as vital components of the broader care team; what happens before and outside the clinic is as impactful on health as what goes on during a short clinic visit.

Creating measurements that matter to individuals today and with an eye towards long-term wellness sustainability.

Pushing the boundaries of the current payment model to align our success with the goals of our patients and communities.


Mantras Column 1

Be systems oriented
How do we remove barriers to health? By seeing the bigger picture. In order to improve the outcomes of our system, we embrace complexity and consider the interconnection between people, behaviors, processes and structures that determine a situation.

Affect change through collective action
What does it take to keep a person healthy within a complex system? Everyone working together. No one system can advance health alone, so we see new partnerships across sectors as a critical component of innovation.

Think long-term
What’s beyond the horizon today? Success cannot be measured with current short-term performance and clinical metrics. Health is the sum total of all clinical, environmental, behavioral and social factors, so looking beyond today’s operational challenges is required to invent a better tomorrow.

Mantras Column 2

Look for positive deviance
What inspires us to address the many needs and problems that face our communities and healthcare system? We look for what’s working, then find a way to make it happen again.

Be bold
When is failing good? Transformative change is created from understanding failure as a learning opportunity. Admitting we may not already have the answer and supporting one another gives us space to try new things.

Cultivate empathy, gather stories
Which problems need to be solved? To develop a paradigm of healthcare that is centered around the true needs of people, we must seek to understand the human experience of health in addition to what the data suggests. Capturing and sharing the stories and day-to-day experiences of those on the ground allows us to approach design with empathy and human insight.


Chip Truwit, MD, FACR

Chief Innovation Officer, Upstream Health Innovations
Chief of Radiology, Hennepin County Medical Center
Professor (E) of Radiology, University of Minnesota

“Upstream offers me the chance to contribute on a broad scale with an eye toward reducing risk, shifting from rescue to prevention, and helping people live healthier, purposeful lives.”

As co-creator of Upstream, Dr. Chip Truwit draws upon his history of healthcare innovation. From his pioneering introduction of digital publishing to Radiology in the early 90s to his novel approach to intraoperative MRI-guided neurosurgery in the late 90s, Dr. Truwit has helped to herald in the era of near real-time medical publishing and near real-time intraoperative imaging. In the 2000s, Dr. Truwit re-engineered the practice of radiology in a public sector hospital, repositioning HCMC Radiology into a leadership role within the Twin Cities and among Safety Net Hospitals, focusing primarily on Patient-Centered Care and Physician Engagement. Consistent with his lifelong commitment to public sector healthcare, Dr. Truwit has assumed the role of Chief Innovation Officer and is focused on establishing Upstream’s team as the premier innovation group among safety net hospitals.

Dr. Truwit has contributed over 130 articles to the neurosciences literature, holds 29 medical device patents, co-founded Image-guided Neurologics (now Medtronic-IGN) and is a General Partner of Seraph Angel Fund. He attended the School of Foreign Service and School of Medicine at Georgetown University, completed his residency in Diagnostic Radiology at Brooke Army Medical Center and his fellowship in Neuroradiology at University of California, San Francisco.

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Susan Jepson, MPH, BSN

Vice President, Upstream Health Innovations

“I joined Upstream Health Innovations to impact the future of health with a focus on understanding the whole person and the impact this understanding has on the delivery of healthcare.”

An accomplished marketing and product executive with extensive experience in the healthcare and financial services industries, Susan Jepson joined HCMC in 2015 and co-created Upstream Health Innovations. Susan’s expertise is in payer market differentiation, consumer acquisition and retention strategies and retail healthcare product innovation. She spent 9 years working at United Health Group focusing on new products and services for both healthcare and financial services. Most recently she led the product development and marketing of healthcare payment products for US Bank. She was responsible for the innovation, product development, implementation and launch of emerging strategies in the healthcare payments, mobile banking and insurance/ benefits space. She is passionate about innovation, health equity and creating health. Susan has her BSN from the College of St. Benedict and her MPH from the University of MN.

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William E. Walsh, MD

Deputy Chief Innovation Officer, Upstream Health Innovations
Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

“I joined Upstream Health Innovations to serve our patients in a completely new and creative way.”

In addition to his role as Deputy CIO with Upstream, William E. Walsh, MD is a practicing Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in the Department of Otolaryngology at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). Dr. Walsh’s unique background includes extensive training and experience as both an artist and a surgeon. He received a BA in studio art and design and a BS from the University of Notre Dame. After becoming a Certified Medical Illustrator, he earned his MD from Northwestern University Medical School and completed a five-year residency there in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. He was then awarded a facial plastic surgery fellowship by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).

Dr. Walsh joined HCMC and the University of Minnesota as a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in the Department of Otolaryngology. Dr. Walsh was also appointed to the faculty at the University of Minnesota where he teaches facial plastic and reconstructive surgery to medical students, residents and fellows. He has authored multiple research studies in facial plastic surgery and his medical illustrations have been published nationally and internationally.


Emily Anderson

Innovation Project Manager

“I joined Upstream Health Innovations for the opportunity to make an impact in the community, to improve the health of the patients in our safety net hospital and to connect and build community with our neighbors that support these patients.”

With a passion for problem solving, collaboration and change management, Emily Anderson comes to healthcare with a unique background. Her perspective helps her challenge assumptions and mindsets on how to empower people on their health journey. She’s worked in India supporting the World Bank and consortium partners applying for agricultural development grants. At Cargill, Inc. she worked as project manager and, for seven years, led product development projects, national marketing campaigns and strategic customer projects. She also volunteers at the non-profit, Partners in Food Solutions, which connects expertise with food processors in Africa to increase food security in their communities. Emily earned a BS from Cornell University in animal science with an emphasis on international rural development.

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Andrea Brown

Human Centered Designer

“I chose to join Upstream Health Innovations because I’m dedicated to taking a longer-term and systemic approach to community health. As a Safety Net institution, I value HCMCs knowledge of the underlying barriers to health that limit the capacity of our communities to thrive.”

Andrea is a service designer committed to social impact and community health. She worked in a New York advertising agency for several years before transitioning back to school and then the Mayo Clinic. Her work at Mayo covered a range of topics including redesigning the prenatal care model, improving the hospital patient experience and investigating the value of patient’s self-tracking. She is also interested in entrepreneurship and spent time pursuing her own women’s health technology concept as well as building Mayo Clinic’s innovation business model accelerator known as “The Garage.” Andrea holds a master’s degree in product design from the Pratt Institute and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.

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Samantha Dempsey

Senior Human Centered Designer

“At Upstream Health Innovations, we blend a deep understanding of health, community, and the lived experience of our patients with human centered design. I joined UHI to design with people in a context that embraces this comprehensive perspective so that we can encourage the flourishing of our communities and their health.

Samantha is a designer committed to creating social impact and improving health and health experiences. Her approach blends human centered design, narrative design, and visual storytelling to understand how health fits into the full context of people’s lives and communities. Before coming to Upstream, Samantha designed patient experiences at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation as a Maharam STEAM Fellow. She later explored the intersection of health and technology as a senior behavior change designer at Mad*Pow. As a curator of the Designer’s Oath, Samantha speaks publicly about the intersection of design and ethics. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. When she is not designing for health, she enjoys embroidering patterns of bacteria onto household objects.

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