Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Author: Alissa Beers, Anna Spencer, Kathy Moses, and Allison Hamblin, Center for Health Care Strategies

May 2018 |


Diverse state agencies — representing health and other sectors — are increasingly forming innovative partnerships to improve population health. How can states pursue cross-sector actions and advance these unique efforts?

While access to health coverage and services plays a significant factor in determining health outcomes, state policymakers increasingly recognize that health outcomes are equally influenced by other sectors, such as agriculture, education, transportation, among others. Cross-sector partnerships are essential when considering state programs and policies outside the health care domain to drive improvements in population health.

Under the Better Health Beyond Health Care initiative, the Center for Health Care Strategies led a national analysis to uncover opportunities to facilitate state-level, cross-sector strategies that promote health beyond the traditional health care levers. The exploration, made possible through support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, identified:  (1) diverse state-level programs or policies beyond health care that drive meaningful improvements in population health; (2) critical success factors for effective cross-sector collaboration; and (3) external supports that would help states propel cross-sector partnerships.

This report, informed by more than 30 key informant interviews representing programs in 19 states and a small group convening, explores the many ways that states are collaborating across agencies to improve population health while accomplishing reciprocal goals in areas like transportation and education. It provides important lessons on how cross-sector partnerships can successfully advance health outcomes through empowering local communities, facilitating cross-sector learning and collaboration, supporting data-sharing, and cultivating cross-sector leadership. A companion set of case studies detailing successful partnerships in varied geographic areas across the country provides a ground-level look at innovative cross-sector initiatives in five states.

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