Partnerships for Community Health Improvement

An issue brief from The Hilltop Institute’s Hospital Community Benefit Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, explores how several hospitals have collaborated with local community or health agencies to improve health in their communities.

Going forward, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will require nonprofit hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments and create implementation strategies to address those needs. Successful partnerships among many stakeholders will be necessary to create initiatives to improve health and leverage resources.

This brief describes several different types of partnerships, ranging from collaboration between hospitals and local health departments with expertise in carrying out community health assessments to broad collaborations among hospitals, community organizations, and health departments to address specific social, economic, and environmental factors known to negatively affect health.

Examples of local efforts include Will County, Illinois and Cecil County, Maryland who utilized needs assessments and planning partnerships, and promoted public and policy-maker awareness on multiple determinants influencing population health using the County Health Rankings.

State efforts include utilizing legislation, agency directives, and modification of existing state policies to improve collaboration. Examples include the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation Board, the Maryland State Health Improvement Process, and the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Process.

The brief concludes that partnerships like these help conserve limited public health and health care funds, while yielding substantial benefits for hospitals, health departments and the communities they serve.