Chapter 26Proximal Health: A Surgeon’s Perspective

Paul Uhlig


Paul Uhlig is a cardiac surgeon in private practice, and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita. His work has radically shifted our thinking about how health occurs. He has innovated ways that demonstrate that building social connections keeps us healthy and helps us heal faster.

He offers a surprising application of the concepts and practices in the Flawless Consulting framework. His methods of collaborative care mentioned in the book show the value for team members, patients, and family members to work together collaboratively, a cultural shift in health care where collaboration has not been the norm. He has received international recognition for this work, including the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety Award in System Innovation from the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission.

Paul’s recent innovation is teaching students what he now calls Proximal Health. “Proximal Health recognizes that the environments surrounding us can be intentionally shaped,” says Dr. Uhlig, “Social determinants of health may seem difficult to influence at an abstract, societal level—poverty, racism, violence, and power inequalities often feel out of our control, acting on us harmfully, and, for many, taking our health away—but locally, acting together, people can absolutely make choices and changes in the opposite direction.”

Proximal Health is an approach ...

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