In an environment where social determinants are playing more of a role in conversations about improving health outcomes, it is critical for the health care and social sectors (which often take the form of local community-based organizations, referred to as CBOs) to build mutually beneficial partnerships. This play outlines steps to help health systems and CBOs build relationships that draw on each other’s strengths, put patients first, and support ecosystem development in local communities.
- Build space for reflection and make time for partners to share emerging insights.
- Find ways to share and use data creatively to clearly understand progress and performance.
- Create channels for reporting out to the community and local officials systematically on successes and failures.
- Create an infrastructure to manage the work and the relationships.
- Define roles, decide who is accountable for what, establish timelines, and stick to them. Structure creates the place where trust starts to build.
- Create a group charter that details partnership purpose, logistics, responsibilities, and timeframes.
- Ensure that everyone has skin in the game.
- At the outset, establish rules of engagement and rules for how the partnership will operate. Help partners understand their time commitment (e.g., establish how many meetings a month or provide an annual meeting calendar).
- Include expectations of resource sharing and agree to terms of the partnership, like membership fees or in-kind contributions.
- Set clear expectations.
- Partners should acknowledge their limits and be honest about what they can and cannot contribute.
- Data-sharing is a must for all partners, as is a commitment to shared care planning and performance reporting.
- A strong backbone organization drives progress in a collaborative project. This organization can play a key role in getting people to meetings, keeping track of decisions, handling day-to-day issues, and other day-to-day supports. Health systems are typically better staffed and more financially resourced than CBOs, so backbone support is often a key contribution made by the health system partner.
- You can encourage commitment and a shared sense of responsibility by setting expectations that partners have to show up, give time, share expertise and their lived experience, and contribute financial or other resources within their means.
- Setting milestones, along with measuring outcomes, helps partners track progress and celebrate when they reach them.
- Recognize that each organization will bring its own priorities to the table.
- Sample Data-Sharing Agreements - These sample data-sharing agreements can be adapted for use by other cross-sector groups seeking to share data. They were used as part of Camden ARISE, which linked data from the criminal justice system, health care providers, and housing organizations in Camden, New Jersey.
- Sample Project Charter - This template states the project’s initial requirements and formally authorizes the project manager to use organizational resources to run the project.
- Sample Stakeholder Mapping Template - This tool can be used to identify individuals and organizations whose interests are positively or negatively affected by the project's execution and completion.
- Better Care Play: Screen, Treat, and Refer Patients with Substance Use Disorder in the Hospital Setting - This play can help hospitals develop a service line for patients with a substance use disorder, from hospital admission (including through the emergency department) to discharge and follow-up in the community setting. Inpatient treatment for substance use disorder can improve recovery time and decrease length of stay, escalations of behavior, and 30-day readmissions.
- Better Care Play: Conduct a Three-Part Data Review to Understand Patient Needs - This play lays out a systematic process for understanding the root cause of high utilization, helps you choose your population, and help you engage patients and families in person-centered co-design.
This Better Care Play is part of a series developed in partnership with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers to share practical lessons in serving complex populations. Following are additional resources in the series:
- Building Shared Outcomes with Community-Based Organizations: Navigating Challenges to Address Social Needs - This interview with Victor Murray, Director of Field Building and Resources for the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, explores the tension between health systems and community-based organizations and discusses strategies for successfully navigating it.
- Forging Health Care and Social Service Partnerships through Data-Sharing: The Camden Coalition Health Information Exchange - This blog post explores the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers’ Health Information Exchange, a web-based application that gives providers across health systems real-time access to medical information for patients with complex needs
- Better Care Play: Initiating Health Care Data-Sharing with a Social Service Organization - This play is designed to help health systems provide access to health-related data to social service organizations in their community.