Reimagining The Experience of Health
New Medical Director and Research and Integration Appointments Announced
We are pleased to announce the appointment of WellConnect’s new Medical Director, Dr. Robert Bonacci. Dr. Bonacci is the Family Medicine Resident Director for Mayo Family Clinic Kasson. He comes to us with a breadth of experience and a passion for facilitating clinic-community connections.   

Dr. Bonacci received his medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Morehouse was instrumental to introducing him to the idea of “community” and the potential impact that communities have on health. He joined Mayo’s Department of Family Medicine in 2000, and worked at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest for 10 years. 

He has a passion for educating and coaching family physicians in training. Previously he worked with Mayo Medical School and developed their first service-learning elective, partnering with the Hawthorne Education Center in Rochester. First year medical students partnered with ESL teachers to develop curriculum related to health literacy and then assisted the teachers in the classroom as the students learned English. During this time he was an active member of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, focused on service-learning and community-based participatory research.
For him, WellConnect represents the next step to unleash the powers of community to positively impact health and wellness.
Dr. Aaron Leppin has transitioned to a new position as Director of Research and Integration. Starting with his research efforts in early 2015 to help form the partnership, Aaron has led the efforts of the WellConnect partnership to become a recognized model of innovation in cross-sector partnership and healthcare delivery. He has recently presented about the WellConnect model at two national meetings , and has been accepted to a National Health & Aging Policy Fellowship Program. 
Why WellConnect?
View Dr. Aaron Leppin's TEDx Talk about Moving from Sick Care to Well Care
Visit our For Professionals Page To:

  • Access Evidence Summaries and Discussion Aids for all WellConnect Programs

  • View a 15-minute Clinical Overview

  • Make secure online referrals

We would be happy to come to your organization to provide more information about WellConnect and give a demonstration of the online features. Contact us at
507-251-3835 or   

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Take a Deeper Dive
Improving Clinic-Community Linkages to Evidence-Based
Health Promotion Programs

Implementation of evidence-based health promotion programs can be achieved in two ways: by being absorbed into the existing health care system or by remaining in communities. Drawbacks of absorbing programs into the existing system include lack of capacity, disadvantages to rural communities, and a missed opportunity for independence and self-directed health within communities. It is preferred that health promotion programs remain in communities and be used as tools to engage individuals and populations. Recent efforts to implement programs in communities have been fragmented,nearly impossible to integrate with healthcare, and are ultimately unsustainable due to dependence on varied and uncertain funding streams.

A far better approach is to engineer a community system,a well care system, that can deliver the programs as part of a cohesive whole. This community system model is organized as a new, “sister system” to the healthcare system, going along side it and cycling individuals in and out of it. People reside in their community well care system as a normal part of life, engaging in health promotion and learning disease self-management. They enter the “sick care” system when there is a need to detect, diagnose, or treat disease. They return to the well care system for social support and for help with normalizing health issues into their lives.
Unlike the sick care system, the well care system operates as a public good, accessible to all everywhere in a familiar format (like a highway system, or the electric grid). Because the well care system is dependent on community linkages and social connections, it is delivered as a collection of geographical region-level hubs. The regions are of a sensible size so that each maintains a unique culture and “neighborhood feel,” but large enough to leverage and equitably distribute the value of key local resources. In many ways, the well care system operates like a network of accountable communities for health, each growing and learning independently and reinvesting in themselves.

The well care system model has several advantages:

  • It provides a tangible and direct way for communities to engage in the implementation of evidence-based, cost-saving health promotion

  • It provides an opportunity for standardization and quality that enables communities to be reimbursed for cost-saving health promotion

  • It provides a mechanism for building community capacity equitably as costs saved are reinvested in the well care system

  • When fully operationalized, it enables a shift in resources from low-value sick care to highest-value well care

Implementing the well care system requires creating a new system from the ground up. Noell, et al. showed that the strongest predictor of system redesign is collaboration. The well care system must be developed and implemented as a community partnership in which all stakeholders expected to use the resulting system are involved in its design. It is also widely understood that, when stakeholders are involved in creating a system, they are more likely to value and commit to it. Thus, In order to achieve the vision of community engagement in health, the well care system must be owned by communities.

Partnership is not easy, but it is rewarding and effective. It is also the best use of resources. Partnerships allow all stakeholders within the well care hub region to pool their resources toward a common goal. In order to achieve successful partnerships, certain values and operational procedures must be prioritized, including equitable community representation, shared decision making, and ethical business practices.

WellConnect is proud of our community partnership, and in the realization of our efforts to facilitate and maintain clinic-community linkages to evidence-based health promotion programs. We welcome you to join us as we reimagine the experience of health in SE MN.