#healthcareinnovation Thursday

What if it was easier for hospitals to join forces with community organizations to improve health outcomes for people where and when they need it most?

AHA’s yearlong Hospital Community Cooperative (HCC) – designed to form meaningful, sustainable partnerships between hospitals and community organizations to promote health equity – points to ways it can be done.

From September 2018 to October 2019, the HCC pilot program worked well by forming strong hospital and community partnerships and equipping them with effective tools and resources to improve community health. Ten hospital and community organization teams received intensive coaching, ongoing monitoring and customizable tools for designing and executing their projects from AHA, the program’s technical assistants and a national advisory panel.

Each HCC team created a sustainable roadmap for advancing community health and collectively achieved more than 300 sustainable community outputs to improve access to housing, health screenings and education.

We will be releasing a program evaluation report from the RAND Corporation showing the implications and impacts of participating in a national collaborative focused on health equity. Here’s a sneak peek at what worked and what we learned.

What worked:

  • Aligning as a group on health equity goals and values. 
  • Facilitating open and honest communications. 
  • Using customizable tools and resources for gaining hospital leadership buy-in, identifying community health needs, forming successful partnerships, developing strategies and action plans and measuring impacts.
  • Having the patience to change one small thing at a time. 

Lessons learned:

  • Identify an issue with high significance for the community. Back it up with hard data.
  • Get hospital leadership to buy in early on. New initiatives can’t prosper unless management supports and promotes the need for change. 
  • Align the project with your organization’s values and business priorities.
  • Delegate a "program champion" to promote the initiative and spur action.
  • Remain steadfast in a program’s objective, even as teams shift and tweak their path to their destination.

Each HCC team created a sustainable roadmap for advancing community health and collectively achieved more than 300 sustainable community outputs to improve access to housing, health screenings and education. This includes creating a network of community health workers, conducting community health workshops, offering free health screenings and integrating emergency care services with housing resources.

Based on HCC’s initial success, we are getting ready to scale up and help even more people in 2020. Meantime, check out this video case study on MultiCare Health System’s community health partnership and program as part of the HCC initiative.  

Sean Thornton is a program manager, population health, at the AHA Center for Health Innovation.

Follow our AHA Weekly blogs or on social media with #HealthCareInnovation Thursday. 

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