A multi-disciplinary team based at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health has recently completed a national study of successful partnerships between hospitals, public health departments, and other stakeholders, focused on assessing and improving the health of communities they jointly serve. The study, which was funded by a coalition including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Grant Thornton LLP, and Hospira, Inc., and directed by Dr. Lawrence Prybil, Norton Professor in Health Leadership at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, sought to identify highly-successful partnerships, examine those relationships, and ascertain key lessons learned from their collective experiences.
The four-step assessment began with 157 nominations, from which 12 operational partnerships were identified as showing solid evidence of high success. These partnerships were studied in-depth through two-day site visits, individual and group interviews, and extensive document review. The study team examined the partnerships’ missions and goals; organization and management models; performance metrics; sources of support; and challenges faced.
The findings of this review provided the basis for eleven recommendations that are intended to assist hospital, public health department, and other community leaders and policy makers in developing strong, multi-sector partnership devoted to improving community health.
“There is growing awareness that restraining growth in health expenditures and improving the health status of communities and society at-large will require a broader approach that addresses the full array of factors affecting health status. Greater attention and resources must be devoted to promoting safer environments and healthy lifestyles, preventing illnesses and injuries, detecting and treating health problems earlier, and addressing underlying determinants of health,” explained Dr. Prybil and study team member, Dr. Douglas Scutchfield, Bosomworth Professor of health services research and policy at the UK College of Public Health in a joint statement. “This study looked at successful collaborations between public health, health care organizations and other community resources to identify those features that can assist other communities in improving their community’s health.”
In addition to Dr. Prybil and Dr. Scutchfield, the team responsible for the study included Mr. Rex Killian, Ms. Ann Kelly, Dr. Glen Mays, Dr. Angela Carman, Dr. Samuel Levey, Ms. Anne McGeorge, and Dr. David W. Fardo. The full report is available at http://www.uky.edu/publichealth/hospital/collaboration.