HCC Report 2024, Healthier Together | The Impact of the Hospital Community Collaborative on Community Health

The Impact of the Hospital Community Collaborative on Community Health

Health Equity Is Essential for Community Health and Well-being

In recent years, hospitals and health systems across the U.S. have made concerted efforts to address health equity with the goal of delivering high-quality, culturally competent care in the communities they serve. By addressing health care at a population level — carefully considering factors such as a patient’s race, age, gender identity and sexual preference, geographic location or ability to pay — providers can help guide new strategies and enhance existing efforts to improve the health of communities.

Studies have shown that social drivers of health affect as much as 50% of the county-level variation in health outcomes, while clinical care impacts only 20%. These areas beyond direct clinical interventions — beyond the four walls of the hospital — can make a significant impact on community health.

Partnerships between health care providers and community organizations help address these barriers head on, and can lead to healthier, more equitable communities. The American Hospital Association built the Hospital Community Collaborative to help foster collaboration and advance health equity.

Social Driver of Health | Economic Stability, Education Access adn Quailty, Health Care Access adn Quality, Neighborhood and Built Enviroment, Social and Community Context

HCC by the Numbers

Between 2018 and 2023, the HCC has formed 48 partnership teams and engaged 50 hospitals and 100 community organizations across 25 states.

5 Years - between 2018 and 2023 | Calendar
48 Partnership Teams | Shaking hands
50 Hospitals, 43 Urban + 7 Rural
100 Community Organizations
25 States | USA Map
Pie chart: What are the main contributors to health outcomes? | 47% Social drivers, 34% Health behaviors, 16% Clinical care, 3% Physical enviroment

Types of issues addressed:


Mental / behavioral health


Digital health equity


Social service coordination / optimization




Food insecurity


Access to care / preventive screenings


Regional planning / coalition building to address health equity


Caregiver support




Public space / environmental health

“Thriving communities that foster health and well-being for all require an ecosystem of partners that work with community members to focus on programming, infrastructure and health care delivery that support equitable outcomes.”

Nancy Myers

Vice President of Leadership and System Innovation, American Hospital Association

“Participating in the HCC cohort was a great experience that helped our team learn from others and refine our work. Also, participating in a structured program from the AHA helped with credibility for our project in the eyes of our health system leadership.”

Brenda Biggs

Director of Community Health, Indiana University Health

“It was a good program for me because I was so new to community health and the concept of working with external partners. I was able to get to know some of Beacon’s partners and found that very beneficial.”

Carey Gaudern

Lead Project Specalist, Beacon Health System, Bremen Hospital

“The Hospital Community Collaborative will continue to bring leading-edge tactics, advice and examples to organizations as they work together to advance health and equity in their communities.”

Nancy Myers

Vice President of Leadership and System Innovation, American Hospital Association

“Our partnership was already stable, but this allowed us to invite more folks into the partnership. This was a great launch pad, as we got to think more broadly about other community members who need to be at the table.”

Maureen Hodge

Director of Behavioral Health and Grants, Community Memorial Healthcare

Community Spotlights

HCC Partnership Insights

Community partners have found success with:

star - green

Digital expertise and technical support needs.

star - lite blue

Partnerships to accomplish a specific goal.

star - dark blue

Collaborative work aligned with existing organizational initiatives and goals.

star - grey

New partnership opportunities and relationships.

Five Lessons Learned From Hospital and Community Partnerships

 Relationships power collaboration.

  • Hospitals and community organizations are stronger together.
  • Each hospital and community organization in the HCC individually possesses strengths and resources, but their partnerships with each other and with stakeholders in their communities amplify the quality of their shared work.
  • HCC partners find their ability to address member and community issues as a pair more valuable than as individual entities.

 Ecosystems matter.

  • This collaborative learning program has demonstrated the necessity of community-centered partnerships for driving innovation and ensuring more effective results.

 Inclusivity is key.

  • Authentic community engagement occurs through making sure that those in the community who are impacted are not just included, but a direct part of the process. This includes inclusivity in decision-making, mobilization, training and capacity-building, and involvement in data collection and implementation.

 Sustainability is multilayered.

  • Short-term pilots, grant initiatives and other phases of activity to test new ideas and practices offer promising ventures for generating innovative health and social needs programs.

 This work is challenging.

  • The ability to quickly pivot and adapt standard approaches to developing programs and partnerships is a challenging yet critical skill for organizations to learn.
  • Throughout their HCC participation, many teams began with one project idea and objective but, through the planning and initial phases of the program, came to realize that their intended objective was not feasible at that time or they needed a new approach.
  • The humility and flexibility teams have demonstrated are a testament to the challenging yet rewarding nature of the work.

What Makes an HCC Partnership Successful?


Partnership alignment on mission, vision and objective.


Agreed-upon roles, responsibilities and shared accountability to better connect communities to resources.


Collecting and analyzing data to uncover insights and determine actionable improvement strategies.


Growing awareness and communication of unmet needs and plans to address them to key stakeholders through storytelling.

Hands huddling together

Learn More About...

Whether part of a hospital, health system, local public health department or community-focused organization, HCC members are supported with the tools, resources and network needed to take their collaborative efforts to the next level.

Q&A With Sean Thornton 
Program Manager, American Hospital Association

Sean Thornton

Q: What are the key elements of a successful community partnership? When it works well, what does that look like?

A: The number-one element is trust. Without trust and clear communication, organizations are likelier to face challenges down the road. It’s important to make sure all partners have clear expectations on what their shared goals are, and how they align with each organization’s core function. The HCC curriculum helps support building trust through exercises meant to foster it.

Q: What are the primary tools and resources you use in the curriculum? How do you communicate these resources and tools to program participants?

A: The meat of our curriculum can primarily be found in the six module workbooks. These modules teach practitioners at hospitals and community organizations how to take key steps to strengthen their collaboration. This includes skills like holding a mission and vision strategy meeting, or sharpening storytelling skills that can open new doors with additional community partners, funders and other important stakeholders. Additionally, we provide data and evaluation tools that can help partnerships more clearly define and measure their work.

Q: How do you communicate these resources and tools to program participants?

A: These resources are readily available to anyone who registers for the HCC. What’s important to communicate about them to participants is how customizable they are. No two hospital-community collaborations are exactly the same: Some may have just started work together. Others may know each other well yet need support with data and evaluation. And others may be further along and readying pitches for potential future stakeholders. Wherever a partnership may be, the HCC is here to provide a comprehensive experience that can be customized to fit such unique needs.