Christopher Dehlin, MD: Changing the dynamic of health care

"We wanted to do something awesome -- change the dynamic."

That's a broad goal for any new business, especially one in the health care industry. Yet, Christopher Dehlin, MD, and his team have delivered that and then some to their northern Michigan patients and staff.

With past experience in other health care practices, Doctor Dehlin felt increasingly dissatisfied with his day to day work. He didn't have the freedom he needed and wanted to make constructive decisions to benefit his patients, and noticed that while health care professionals were constantly trying to get things done, actually making progress could be difficult.

Motivated by the need to solve the problems before him, Doctor Dehlin, along with his fellow practitioner and wife Jennifer Dehlin, MD, opened the doors of Singletrack Health one short year ago. In that time, they've started a new conversation about the way a family medicine practice should run in 2017.

Venturing out on his own gave Doctor Dehlin the freedom and ability to address issues the way he wanted to -- head on. Now, he and his team are able to solve the problems that come before them efficiently and effectively.

"We really wanted to focus on teaching our staff 'why,' and emphasize working to constantly make small improvements." Doctor Dehlin explains.

Collaboration with staff is an important part of what makes his practice so effective. Doctor Dehlin emphasizes the importance of communication, and gives staff members an opportunity to provide feedback. It's a continuous process that is always improving, an approach that has raised morale among both staff and patients.

With staff engaged and working together, Doctors Dehlin are able to focus their energies on providing exceptional care for patients -- with many coming long distances to get care.

The Upper Peninsula creates a unique challenge for physicians. With a few major cities sprinkled throughout a primarily rural area, access to specialists and managing wait times can be a challenge. The Dehlin team has embraced this challenge though; being Upper Peninsula natives, they see it as an opportunity to further grow and develop their own skillsets.

In addition to providing full scope family medical services, Singletrack Health also offers several medical procedures across a variety of fields, including women's health care and low-risk obstetrics, dermatology, travel medical consults and vaccinations. Most of these services are available to established patients, and even new ones.

The opening of their own practice also allowed the Dehlins to donate time, money and expertise to causes important to them. Working not only with people in the Marquette area -- where their practice is based -- but across the country.

Currently members of the physician support staff for the U.S. Ski Team athletes, the Dehlin family donates their time and expertise to helping the United States most elite skiers. The Singletrack Health team has also donated funds to help the expansion of the Little Bay de Noc Trail and partnered with the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority and the Marquette Downtown Development Authority to provide a bike maintenance station along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.

In addition to these projects, Doctor Dehlin's practice sponsors a multi-sport race team called Team Singletrack Health. Comprised of 15 members, the team competes in community events year round, including biking, running and skiing races.

Both of the Dehlins are members of the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS). They used a variety of MSMS resources during the process of opening their own practice, including networking through the county medical society, and online legal resources. MSMS tools and resources also opened the door to a whole new network of private physicians who started contacting Singletrack Health to collaborate and work together.

Doctor Dehlin says that he's begun working with a leadership coach and is considering offering consulting services to other physicians who would like to improve the culture of their practices. By focusing on constant process improvement -- the concept of making small improvements all the time -- the Dehlins have changed the way they and their staff conduct their practice.

To learn more about Doctor Christopher Dehlin and the work he and his wife are doing, visit

Over the next year, Medigram, the Michigan State Medical Society's e-newsletter, will highlight a series of leading, innovative physicians in Michigan. For more information on Medigram, contact Kevin McFatridge.


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