Thought leadership

Creating Community Partnerships Without Controlling the Process

Creating Community Partnerships Without Controlling the Process

The Accountable Care Act (ACA) stimulated an explosion of efforts to build community health partnerships. Yet when the bloom wears off, how can leaders manage and sustain these collaboratives?

At Gallagher, we have found that executives are learning important lessons about how to conduct community health needs assessments and leverage them for a clear strategy. The goal: to enhance community health gain and health care.[1]

To act on these lessons, however, health system boards and executive teams must master strategies to build and manage partnerships that implement health needs assessment results. Executives now have many resources to help leverage and guide effective community health partnerships. Examples include:

  • Gallagher’s section of tools to assess and address community health needs.[2]
  • A Toolkit to form partnerships by The March of Dimes[3]
  • Materials offered by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[4]
  • The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) collection of hospital-community partnerships from across the United States[5]
  • The AHA’s Playbook for Fostering Hospital-Community Health Partnerships[6]
  • The California Healthcare Foundation’s blog: For Community Health Centers, a Hands-On Guide to Building Partnerships[7]
  • A series of videos on community health partnerships from Johns Hopkins Medical Center.[8]

Leverage community health design studios

To mobilize and integrate these many resources, savvy executives have organized day-long planning sessions. These meetings leverage characteristics of a charrette,[9] and a “Design Studio”[10] as a means of gathering eclectic community leaders to define needs, and then mobilize resources to address those needs in a sustainable, high-impact manner.

Essential characteristics of these community-based strategy development sessions include five actions:

  1. Identify a diverse and broad selection of community-based organizations engaged in the social determinants of health. Examples include schools, economic development agencies, housing, police and fire, public health promotion and prevention organizations, chambers of commerce, and eclectic faith-based and culturally diverse advocacy organizations.
  2. Issue sincere invitations for community leaders to help design and develop action plans to implement the priority goals in the Community Health Needs Assessment Plans.
  3. Create an agenda for how best to garner funding and loaned executives for a “backbone organization” as championed by the Collective Impact Forum.[11]
  4. Gather for a full day in a relaxed, well-facilitated retreat venue to build the “Roadmap for the Implementation of Strategic Initiatives.” This plan will promote sustainable health gains as well as health care for defined population groups.
  5. Develop a strategy and calendar for a diverse “Governing Body” to measure, monitor and maintain progress toward transparent and understandable health gain targets for the community health collaborative.

How can you best stimulate creation of this work plan without controlling the process?  Successful, resilient, and sustainable community health partnerships are more likely to leverage hospital and health systems as spokes rather than the hub of such collaboratives.

Learn more about how leaders successfully create community health partnerships without controlling the process. Contact James Rice, practice leader for Gallagher’s Governance and Leadership consulting team,

James A. Rice

Jim Rice, PhD, FACHE is the Managing Director & Practice Leader with the Governance & Leadership service line of Gallagher’s Human Resources & Compensation Consulting practice. He focuses his consulting work on strategic governance structures and systems for high performing, tax-exempt nonprofit, credit union and health sector organizations and integrated care systems; visioning for large and small not-for-profit organizations; and leadership development for Boards and C-Suite Senior Leaders. 

Dr. Rice holds masters and doctoral degrees in ...

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