Partnerships for Better Health Outcomes

In June, the Partnership for Healthy Outcomes: Bridging Community-Based Human Services and Healthcare issued the report “Working Together Toward Better Health Outcomes” detailing the findings from a national request for information that sought information about partnerships between healthcare organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs).  The data came from 200 respondents to the request for information with 67% of respondents from CBOs, 13% from healthcare organizations, and 9% from government agencies. The remaining respondents represented foundations, research institutions, consulting organizations, and for-profit CBOs. Responses came from all 50 states while California, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota were the most represented.

The following key findings come from the report’s executive summary.

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all formula: Respondents represented partnerships of many sizes, shapes, and contractual and funding arrangements; many were among healthcare providers and CBOs – but partners also included public health and other government agencies, private insurers, foundations, schools, supermarkets, and more.
  • Shared goals provide common ground: Most of the responding partnerships were initiated by CBOs and noted the value of developing shared goals to improve health outcomes and contain or reduce costs.
  • Most partnerships have some sort of formal agreement in place, though partner integration varied from communicating (sharing client information) to coordinating (aligning services toward better client outcomes) to collaborating (sharing staff, space, or resources) to integrating (becoming a collective entity with connected programs, planning, and funding).
  • Most commonly, partnerships provided services to impact immediate-term clinical needs, such as reducing hospital admissions or length of stay. This may be due, at least in part, to a funding environment with incentives for cost reduction. More than half of respondents reported that their partnerships include care coordination support to better organize services across multiple providers; fewer partnerships reported providing services that address underlying social determinants to improve health in the long-term. A majority (65%) of partnerships reported realizing cost savings.
  • Partnerships rely on an evolving variety of funding sources, including private foundations, healthcare systems, and government entities, and typically more than one. A number of partnerships were established through a one-time grant and have developed – or are developing – a long-term, sustaining funding model.
  • Nearly all organizations acknowledged expanding skills and capacities through partnership, particularly in network-building, improving programs, and generating new funding.
  • Advancing the field will require partners and funders to:1)Prioritize and invest time in relationship-building – the key ingredient to effectiveness; 2)Engage a wide range of stakeholders, including community members, early on and throughout the partnership; 3)Identify and fund the full cost of partnership to effectively support development and evolution; 4)Stay adaptable and nimble in an ever-shifting environment.

To learn more, download the full report.