Community health through collective impact
How can a community come together to achieve collective impact and sustained change? What do local organizations need to participate in multi-sectoral partnerships? We set out to answer those questions during the inaugural Gen-H Innovation Series last month. In collaboration with Healthify, the day-long session prompted conversations about:
- Eliminating barriers between the different stakeholders in the community to achieve collective impact
- The needs of various stakeholders in the community to participate in collective impact initiatives
- And maximizing capacity and sustainability through partnerships with funders
Planting the seeds for collective impact
Cincinnati may be known for having some of the country’s best chili, but it’s also home to an expansive community health improvement initiative. Generation Health, known locally as Gen-H and as a subsidiary of The Health Collaborative (THC), operates as a strategic convener and leader of population health and collective impact initiatives in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
The first Gen-H Innovation Summit brought together over 75 organizations spanning across multiple sectors - social services, healthcare, philanthropy - to discuss how collective impact can drive better health outcomes for members of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.
Throughout the session, organizations shared common challenges they face when serving members of the community. Some of the most common themes were a lack of connections to diverse sources of funding, little to no data transparency across sectors, and overlapping or conflicting plans of action. But in addition to the challenges, many organizations also shared examples of successful partnerships in the community.
Highlighting models of collaboration
bi3, a grantmaking initiative in Greater Cincinnati, led the opening panel with three selected funded partners. Director of Grants and Evaluation, Jennifer Zimmerman, highlighted the need for innovation and piloting new approaches to driving widespread improvements in health across Hamilton County, OH.
Faced with a staggering infant mortality rate and preterm births, the community came together to establish a successful initiative to reduce preterm birth and improve maternal and infant health outcomes. Each partner revealed the fruits of their labor: an unprecedented decrease in infant mortality, fewer preterm births, better care, and lower costs.
And the momentum was only starting. Following bi3, we heard from one of the most innovative medical-legal partnerships in the nation, Child HeLP. Child HeLP is a partnership between Cincinnati Children’s primary care centers and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati to help patient families resolve legal and social issues that impact the health and well-being of their children.
Program Manager, Adrienne Henize, and Senior Attorney, Donita Parrish, spoke about the remarkable integration of the Legal Aid staff into primary care settings. As a result of their decades-long success, they are exploring other areas of the health system where the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati can be embedded to continue driving health equity in the community.
Opening lines of communication
Following the panels, we steered the discussion back to the attendees for an in-depth discussion about collaboration. We use the following questions to guide our conversations:
- What are the barriers keeping us from working with each other?
- What are the unique ways for us to alleviate these barriers?
- How will we know we’ve successfully alleviated these barriers?
Unsurprisingly, many of the responses overlapped. Organizations spoke about the inherent uncertainty associated with engaging in partnerships with clinical organizations. Other organizations shared their concerns with funding and the competition that exists for additional funding. Decentralized data was another major concern. Our conversations surfaced an obvious need for developing and piloting collective impact approaches within the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Defining a collective strategy
Something that has befallen us all after a conference or session like this is the burning question, what now? More than a conversation, we are trying to build trust and readiness to pursue a collective impact approach to combat social determinants of health in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The Innovation Series serves as the foundation for the design and implementation of a collective strategy.
Stay tuned for future events in our Innovation Series as we continue to work together to finalize our roadmap! And in the meantime, learn more about our approach to convening and mobilizing community partners to improve health outcomes.