Start: September 2016

Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Given the importance of social determinants in individuals’ health outcomes, health care organizations across the country are pursuing partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs) — such as housing organizations, workforce development agencies, and food banks — to meet non-medical needs that may be driving poor health outcomes, particularly for high-need and vulnerable populations. These partnerships are occurring under a variety of models, yet little is known about the strategic, cultural, operational, and financial considerations that contribute to their success.

To understand more about these partnerships, the Center for Health Care Strategies, Nonprofit Finance Fund, and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities are working together under the Partnership for Healthy Outcomes: Bridging Community-Based Human Services and Health Care. This 12-month project, made possible through support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is seeking to uncover and broadly share key elements and core competencies of successful cross-sector collaborations serving low-income and other vulnerable populations.

Through a survey released in early 2017, representatives from CBOs and health care organizations from across the country were invited to share information about their partnerships, including:

  • Partnership characteristics, such as structure, governance, capacities, motivations to collaborate, and community engagement;
  • Services provided and workflows between the organizations to ensure that patient needs are communicated and addressed;
  • Information systems to collect and share patient information, coordinate care, and facilitate service billing;
  • Goals and how to measure impact through systems that collect, organize, and communicate data on shared indicators;
  • Diverse funding models such as grants, per-service payments, Medicaid reimbursement, and shared risk arrangements; and
  • Challenges, lessons learned and future plans to grow and sustain their collaborations.

To advance effective partnerships across the nation, responses to the survey are being used to develop a report, case studies that more deeply explore a subset of the partnerships, and other resources that will be disseminated nationally.