• AAFP Working to Improve Community Health Outcomes

    Academy Helps Create Health Care, Public Health Collaboration Framework

    July 03, 2018, 02:45 pm Chris Crawford – The AAFP played a key role in the recent release of a new framework to spark collaboration between the public health and health care sectors to improve community health outcomes.

    The framework and accompanying white paper, "Partnering to Catalyze Comprehensive Community Wellness: An Actionable Framework for Health Care and Public Health Collaboration," were released June 13 by the Health Care Transformation Task Force (HCTTF), of which the Academy is a member, and the Public Health Leadership Forum.

    "There is mounting recognition that to truly improve health in the U.S. and curb chronic diseases there must be an interdisciplinary, coordinated and cross-sector approach to address acute conditions and the upstream social factors that contribute to poor health outcomes," said Jeff Micklos, executive director of HCTTF, in a news release. "Our hope is that this framework will help break down silos and transform the way the health and human service systems traditionally interact."

    circle of hands clasped together

    The framework outlines five essential elements of collaboration and presents key tactics and strategies for forming or reshaping effective partnerships. The five elements are: governance structure, financing plan, cross-sector prevention models, data-sharing strategy, and performance measurement and evaluation plan.

    "This framework will be instructive as health care and public health leaders look to partner together to address the social determinants of health," said Georgia Heise, Dr.P.H., director of the Three Rivers District Health Department in Kentucky and past president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, in the release. "Policymakers, as well as health care purchasers and payers, can help by removing barriers in the current financing and reimbursement structures that may unintentionally prevent collaboration."

    A related article published the same day in NEJM Catalyst provided an overview of the collaborative effort's deliverables and a strong call to action.

    Story Highlights

    Bellinda Schoof, M.H.A., director of the AAFP's Health of the Public and Science Division, co-authored the article with John Wiesman, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., secretary of health for the Washington State Department of Health and president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

    Schoof told AAFP News that family physicians should be aware of local, community-level, cross-sector collaborations that aim to improve population health.

    "There are many ways for family physicians to become engaged at their local level by being informed of current activities and partnering with community efforts to improve community wellness," she said. "The framework identifies tactics and actionable strategies to increase collaborative efforts."

    Schoof said the AAFP will reference the framework and white paper in its content and messaging regarding community engagement, including in its social determinants of health toolkit update, which is expected to be released in the next month or so.

    "Cross-sector partnerships are essential to achieve value-based care and population health in striving toward a comprehensive community wellness vision," Schoof said.

    Calls for Action

    The framework calls for action from key stakeholders to realize the comprehensive community wellness vision:

    • Public health and health care leaders can use the framework to convene collaborative groups, commit the time and resources needed to effectively collaborate on a shared vision, and grow a generation of health professionals who view multisector collaboration as the norm.
    • Local, state and federal policymakers can learn from the examples of effective cross-sector collaboration that informed development of the framework to advance policies and programs that create the catalysts and conditions in which collaborative wellness approaches thrive.
    • Health professionals can identify opportunities to engage and support community-based organizations in structured partnerships to ensure that health interventions can take hold.

    "As we developed the framework, we wanted to emphasize that health equity, person-centeredness and sustainability need to be prioritized at every decision point," said Gerd Clabaugh, M.P.A., director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, in the release. "These three overarching considerations are crucial to forming an effective partnership and making an impact on population health."

    Following the framework's approach, the collaborative groups said public health, health care, social service and community organizations can build high-functioning partnerships to address health needs in their communities and invest in the time, staff, information platforms and oversight structures needed to sustain them.

    "Effective community partnerships engage a wide range of community members, community-based organizations, social services agencies and faith-based organizations," said Mouhanad Hammami, M.D., senior vice president for safety net transformation, community benefit, health and well-being at Trinity Health in Livonia, Mich. "Public health and health care leaders are well-positioned to take a leadership role in bringing together all the necessary stakeholders to realize the vision of comprehensive community wellness."

    Webinar on Collaborative Framework

    On July 31, the HCTTF will host a webinar from 2-3 p.m. EDT explaining the five essential elements of collaboration for forming or reshaping effective partnerships, while highlighting the new framework and white paper.

    A panel of public health and health care leaders will describe how they've built high-functioning partnerships to address health needs in their communities.

    Both Heise and Hammami are scheduled speakers for the event, along with Carol Moehrle, R.N., district director of North Central District Health Department in Idaho.

    Interested participants are invited to register online for the webinar. 

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