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Good Health, Better World

Stronger communities begin with good health — for everyone. Some people are more likely to develop chronic health conditions, simply because of where they live, their economic status, their level of education, and even ready access to grocery stores. These factors — and underlying inequities — influence the decisions people can make which may lead to life-altering consequences regarding their health.

Experts recognize this set of factors with a name: social determinants of health. The World Health Organization defines social determinants as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and how these circumstances are shaped by the distribution of resources.  

The Good Health, Better World podcast sponsored by UPMC Health Plan brings experts together to discuss some of healthcare’s most important (and often challenging) topics.


Season 1, Episode 7: Better Health for Mom and Baby

Researchers, insurers, and health care experts continue to try to tackle improving maternal health care — and by extension, the health of children.

In this episode, we hear from Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, senior medical director, pediatrics at UPMC Health Plan, where she manages children’s services in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other initiatives. We also hear from Katie Domalakes, a licensed social worker and director of clinical programs at UPMC Health Plan who focuses on population health efforts for maternal, child, and special needs populations.

Host Ellen Beckjord also speaks with Congresswoman Robin Kelly, an Illinois Democrat, who is advocating for measures to extend Medicaid coverage to women for up to one year after they give birth.

Ellen Beckjord
Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH, is host of the Good Health, Better World podcast.

Ellen is a behavioral scientist and clinical psychologist who trained at the University of Vermont, where she worked with cancer survivors and their families. She currently serves as the associate vice president of population health and clinical affairs for UPMC Health Plan Her work is focused on the use of digital tools from the clinical side to promote health, wellness, and health behavior change.

She completed post-doctoral research at the National Cancer Institute in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch within the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. She spent nearly five years in academic medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Hillman Cancer Center.

A native of the Pittsburgh area, Ellen also is the co-author of “Porchtraits” in which she interviewed people on their front porch, amid the pandemic.

This podcast is proudly presented by

UPMC Healthplan logo

Season 1, Episode 9: COVID-19 Vaccinations and Your Workforce

Employers large and small in Pennsylvania may be wrestling with questions as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift and more people are eligible for the vaccine. In this episode, hear from Dr. Joon Lee, senior vice president, UPMC, and president, UPMC Physician Services, UPMC Health Services Division. Dr. Lee, formerly chief ...

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Season 1, Episode 8: What’s Next for Social Determinants?

So many factors influence the choices a person makes regarding their health. Addressing these social factors often seems insurmountable. But many organizations are beginning to make inroads. This includes health insurers, like UPMC Health Plan, who are exploring approaches that help support the “whole person” — which in theory can lead ...

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Season 1, Episode 6: Powering a more equitable future through information

How can researchers partner with community and government organizations to gain visibility into the social needs of our communities? In Episode 6, we hear from Joan Eichner, director, operations and evaluation, UPMC Center for Social Impact in Pittsburgh. Her work supports the development of comprehensive strategies across UPMC that address social ...

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