As the nation grapples with modern healthcare crises—such as the opioid epidemic—new models of approaching comprehensive community wellness are needed. Current models often rely on discrete, independent groups functioning on their own. While well-intentioned, comprehensive community wellness can only happen when the barriers and silos between healthcare and public health come down. Removing those barriers allows for greater collaboration between government health departments and healthcare, resulting in improved healthcare outcomes, reduced expenses, and more efficient approaches to critical issues. The Health Care Transformation Task Force and The Public Health Leadership Forum have offered one model with the goal of encouraging collaborative, comprehensive approaches to community wellness. This model includes five key elements:
- Governance Structure
- Financing Plan
- Cross-sector Prevention Models
- Data-sharing Strategies
- Performance Measurement and Evaluation
Governance Structure and Financing Plan
Clear governance enables successful partnerships between public health and healthcare delivery systems. A formalized scope of common priorities and objectives may enable key stake holders to not only work better within their own systems but also coordinate more effectively with other groups, including community-based organizations that play critical roles in community wellness, such as schools, religious communities, public and private assistance organizations, and so on. Increased governance around a unified vision and objective allows for greater long-term financial sustainability through gained efficiencies and committed financial planning. As organizations partner more closely together, cost savings may be reinvested into local healthcare objectives creating a positive feedback loop for future savings, improvements, and investments.
Cross-sector Prevention Models
Prevention models that pull from the expanded efforts of a broader collective may have an improved likelihood of success. The synergistic effect of each group bringing their own experience, resources, and methodologies to bear on a common objective allows for improved response times and health outcomes for the community. When developing prevention models, cross-sector groups should develop interventions that focus on a specific who, what, and why.
- Who—Who is the accountable party or parties responsible for an intervention
- What—What will be done and what is different about an intervention from previous efforts
- Why—Why is a change being made and how will success be measured
Interventions are overseen by the cross-sector governance body who ensures accountability and broader coordination between all groups.
Data-sharing strategies focus on two elements: facilitation of data sharing and limitations in sharing due to rules and regulations.
Data sharing can be facilitated by adopting a consistent platform across all groups that provides real-time, role-specific information to the right parties. When selecting a data-sharing tool, care should be given to understand expense, the needs of the various cross-sector groups, and the operational feasibility of implementation and use.
Current rules and regulations also impact data sharing. HIPPA, OHCAs, and other regulations preclude sharing patient information without regard for privacy, and care should be taken to guard protected health information (PHI). However, community partners involved in cross-sector community wellness interventions may be able to qualify as assisting third parties. Community groups may also be able to access patient data through a business associate agreement. Finally, patients themselves can opt to share their PHI with members of the cross-sector group.
Performance Measurement and Evaluation
Community wellness programs should be measured and evaluated to determine overall effectiveness. A good evaluation plan will define which data will be gathered, how it will be gathered and analyzed, and how the resulting information will be shared and used to determine future decisions and investments. Dual-purpose measures that track multiple data points or opportunities coupled with behavior-based measures and outcomes may prove more effective and impactful than tracking processes or results. Ideally, any evaluation program will provide timely feedback and data to enable a rapid, iterative approach to any collaborative effort.
Comprehensive community wellness is best supported in collaborative, multi-sector environments where the experiences, resources, and contributions of each group are fully engaged and used. ClientTrack empowers healthcare leaders and practitioners, policy makers, and support groups to better collaborate on a shared vision and program. To learn more, check out our white paper “Evolving Healthcare Delivery Models Demand Community Care Coordination.”