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The Power of Community Partnerships

Created May 11 2018, 04:48 PM by Lippincott Solutions
  • population health
  • patient care

Partnerships between hospitals and community stakeholders are essential to improving population health. To understand how hospitals and communities can develop and sustain partnerships, the Health Research & Educational Trust, working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conducted 50 interviews with hospital and community leaders from 25 diverse communities across the United States.

These interviews revealed best practices for identifying community health needs and potential partners, and overcoming challenges to build a culture of health.

Case Study: School-based Wellness Collaborative in California

To address the rising rate of childhood obesity, as well as reduced resources for physical and nutritional education, PIH Health in Whittier, Calif., and the Los Nietos School District formed Healthy Los Nietos (HLN), a school-based wellness collaborative. HLN has a community advisory board from a diverse set of community-based organizations and government entities. The HLN collaborative focuses on increasing the number of students who maintain a healthy weight and improving the overall health and wellness of school district staff and families.

The HLN collaborative coordinates student education on health and wellness topics, provides annual student health screenings and immunizations, develops school wellness policy and environmental change strategies, and engages parents and community members.

Case Study: Partnership with Food Bank in Indiana

Indiana University Health (IU Health), Indianapolis, partnered with Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana in 2015 and now provides funding for the CARE Mobile Food Pantry. The partnership offers 6,000 meals a week to six neighborhoods affected by high rates of poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, and violent crime. The program seeks to reduce crime rates in communities by de-escalating tension caused by hunger. Food is distributed by volunteers and local police and public safety department employees, which also builds goodwill among residents.

Considerations for Creating an Effective Hospital-Community Partnership

There is much to consider in the planning phases of partnership development.

  • Develop a formal governance/steering committee with individuals representing each partner organization.
  • Obtain support and commitment from each partner’s CEO, senior management team, board of trustees, and other key leaders.
  • Develop succession plans with current and future leaders so the partnership does not rely entirely on one person or organization.
  • Get agreement with all partners on mission, vision, goals, objectives, and appropriate intervention strategy.
  • Draft any legal agreements or memorandums of understanding to solidify the partnership structure, as needed.
  • Present return-on-investment case to leadership at all organizations.
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities of each partner.
  • Convene active workgroups and committees that focus on execution and continually work to address challenges and barriers.
  • Engage partners in collaborative problem-solving of jointly shared problems.
  • Discuss lessons learned on an ongoing basis to modify and strengthen partnership structure and processes.
  • Ensure transparent and frequent communication between partners and other key stakeholders.
  • Regularly conduct informal reviews of partnership quality to identify any areas for improvement.

Partnership Program Development and Implementation

Develop a partnership based on prioritized community health needs.

  • Ensure partners agree on the scope of the interventions.
  • Identify any evidence-based interventions and promising practices for the identified need, and agree upon process and outcome metrics.
  • Identify community assets to determine all available resources and potential partners.
  • Identify and apply for secure, sustainable funding. Consider pilot grants if long-term funding is unavailable.
  • Adopt a partnership assessment survey tool to periodically gauge partnership satisfaction.
  • Measure the impact of the partnership’s efforts on the stated goals. Select process measures to signal progress toward the long-term goal.
  • Share data among partners, particularly data on partnership goals.
  • Share data with community stakeholders and community members to demonstrate progress.
  • Ensure that partners measure the perceived quality and impact of the partnership to improve health.
  • Evaluate how the partnership facilitates ongoing community relationships.
  • Celebrate successes and communicate stories broadly.

Successful partnerships benefit hospitals and their staff members, patients, and the community. Share your community partnership success stories and challenges so we all can learn from each other.

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