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Core Characteristics and Related Indicators of Successful Partnerships Involving Hospitals, Public Health Departments, and Other Parties

Updated: 2/25/2014

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  1. Vision, Mission, and Values – The partnership’s vision, mission, and values are clearly stated, reflect a strong focus on improving community health, and are firmly supported by the partners
    • Vision, mission, and values are set forth in a written document and shared with key stakeholders, including the community the partnership serves
    • Partners are committed to support the partnership’s vision, mission, and values
    • A board, a steering committee, or other body has the responsibility and authority to adopt policies and approve initiatives that support the partnership’s mission
  2. Partners – The partners demonstrate a culture of collaboration with other parties, understand the challenges in forming and operating partnerships, and enjoy mutual respect and trust
    • Partners have a history and tradition of participating in collaborative arrangements
    • Partners share mutual respect and trust for one another
    • Partners are open and transparent with one another
    • Partners focus on developing programs in which they have expertise and/or can secure external talent readily and efficiently
  3. Goals and Objectives – The goals and objectives of the partnership are clearly stated, widely communicated, and strongly supported by the partners and the partnership staff
    • The partnership’s goals, objectives, and programs are based on community needs with substantial community input
    • The partnership’s goals and objectives are set forth in a written document and shared with key stakeholders, including the community the partnership serves
    • The goals and objectives should include meaningful and measurable outcomes and a timeline for achievement
    • Information regarding progress towards the partnership’s goals and objectives is regularly provided to the partners, the community, and other key stakeholders
  4. Organizational Structure – A durable structure is in place to carry out the mission and goals of the collaborative arrangement. This can take the form of a legal entity, affiliation agreement, memorandum of understanding, or other less formal arrangements such as community coalitions
    • Organizational documents recite the key features of the partnership including its mission, goals, and core policies
    • The partnership’s board, or other body with governance responsibility, is comprised of persons with the capability needed to effectivelyprovide direction, monitor progress, and adopt action plans as required to ensure continued progress
    • Tax-exempt status is preferred but not required
  5. Leadership – The partners jointly have designated highly-qualified and dedicated persons to manage the partnership and its programs
    • Leadership roles, responsibilities and decision-making authority are defined in writing, honored by key parties, and updated on a regular basis
    • Members of the partnership’s staff have mutual respect for each other, compatible values, and dedication to build and maintain a successful, trust-based partnership
    • The partners and members of the partnership’s staff share "ownership" of the partnership and demonstrate commitment to its long-term success
  6. Partnership operations – The partnership institutes programs and operates them effectively
    • Partners identify resource requirements (human and financial), build capital and operating budgets that are sufficient, and successfully secures those resources
    • Communication channels among the partners, staff, the community, and other stakeholders are clear, transparent, and effective
    • Mechanisms to identify and resolve conflicts or issues are well-established and used proactively
  7. Program Success and Sustainability – The partnership is operational and clearly has demonstrated successful performance
    • The partnership has been in operation for at least two years
    • The partnership assesses community health needs, prioritizes those needs, and develops evidence-based programs and strategies to address them
    • There is solid evidence of community engagement and support
    • There is solid evidence of successful operating performance, including clear potential to have long-term impact on community health
  8. Performance Evaluation and Improvement – The partnership monitors and measures its performance periodically against agreed upon goals, objectives, and metrics
    • The partners and staff are deeply committed to on-going evaluation and continuous improvement
    • Measurable outcomes, metrics, and scorecards that enable evidence-based assessment of the partnership’s performance are employed consistently
    • The partnership’s goals, objectives, and programs are assessed regularly, findings are reported to the governing body, and actions are taken to improve the partnership and its performance


Axelsson, R., and Axelsson, S., “Integration and Collaboration in Public Health—A Conceptual Framework,” International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 21, January-March 2006, pp 75-88.

Brennan, D., Prybil, L., Sexton, K., and Pajka, R., “Eight Lessons of Collaboration,” Health Progress, 79, July-August 1998, pp 56-61.

Children and Family Futures. The Collaborative Practice Model for Family Recovery, Safety, and Stability, (Irvine, California: Children and Family Futures, 2011), esp. pp 3-23.

Health Systems Learning Group (HSLG).  Strategic Investment in Shared Outcomes: Transformative Partnerships between Health Systems and Communities.   Prepared from shared learning at the Health and Human Services and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Leadership Summit, Washington, DC, April 4, 2013.

Institute of Medicine, Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health (Washington, DC: The National Academy Press, 2012).

Kania, J., and Kramer, M., “Collective Impact,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, 54, winter 2011, pp 36-41.

Kristensen, K., and Kijl, B., “Collaborative Performance: Assessing the ROI of Collaboration,” International Journal of E-Communication, 6, January-March 2010, pp 53-69.

Mattessich, P., Murray-Close, M., and Monsey B. Collaboration: What Makes It Work: A Review of Research Literature on Factors Influencing Successful Collaboration, Second Edition (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Fieldstone Alliance, 2001), esp. pp 11-28.

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Shortell, S., et al., “Evaluating Partnerships for Community Health Improvements: Tracking the Footprints,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, 27, February 2002, pp 49-91.

Vangen, S., and Huxham, C., “The Tangled Web: Unraveling the Principle of Common Goals in Collaboration,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 22, December 2011, pp 731-760.

Wildridge, V., Childs, S., Cawthra, L., and Madget, B., “How to Create Successful Partnerships: A Review of the Literature,” Health Information and Libraries Journal, 21, June 2004, pp 3-19.