Provider practices juggling diverse patient needs and overbooked appointment rosters often lack time to address the significant social, economic, and environmental barriers standing in the way of their patients’ health. Given the day-to-day hurdles many patients face, including poor housing, lack of transportation, low health literacy, and healthy food scarcity, practices can benefit from strategic partnerships with community organizations that can help support patient needs.

This brief, authored by the Center for Health Care Strategies for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Equity Improvement Initiative, outlines considerations for practices looking to develop partnerships with community organizations. It examines four critical components for building partnerships:

  1. Making the case for partnerships from the practice, patient, and community perspectives;
  2. A framework and examples of partnership arrangements between practices and community entities;
  3. Building blocks and activities to develop successful partnerships; and
  4. Levers for sustaining practice-community partnerships.

The brief was developed with input from national experts in the areas of practice improvement, disparities, safety-net systems, and community engagement. It mainly addresses practices that may have limited experience with community engagement, but that seek to form relationships that can help them improve the quality or equity of their care.