Monday, June 06, 2005

Collaborative Partnerships in Healthcare

I can feel a healthcare thread coming on. To my previous post on Health Information Liquidity, add this link to the Center for the Advancement of Collaborative Strategies in Health, or CACSH.

CACSH includes all kinds of free online resources, including this thougthful Partnership Self-Assessment Tool. Though not oriented specifically towards a network model, this tool could clearly be adapted very productively in that direction. See ongoing work in Client Connectivity at the Network Roundtable to see more of what I mean.

I especially like this list of benefits and drawbacks of collaboration, adapted from the CACSH model by Keith Provan et al:

Benefits of collaboration (in healthcare):
  • Enhanced ability to serve my clients
  • Enhanced ability to serve the community
  • Acquisition of new knowledge or skills
  • Acquisition of additional funding
  • Increased utilization of organization’s services
  • Development of new, valuable relationships
  • Heightened public profile of organization
  • Enhanced influence in the community
  • Increased ability to shift resources

Drawbacks of collaboration (in healthcare):
  • Diversion of time and resources
  • Loss of control or autonomy
  • Strained relations within organization
  • Frustration in dealing with partners
  • Insufficient credit given to organization

Provan, a leading researcher in healthcare networks, included this list in a recently published study of inter-organizational community building, co-authored by L. Nakama, M. Veazie, N. Teufel-Shone, and C. Huddleston: "Building Community Capacity Around Chronic Disease Services Through a Collaborative Interorganizational Network" in Health Education & Behavior.

Over the course of a year, study participants were generally much more enthusiastic about benefits of collaboration than concerned about drawbacks. As the study played out, participants found their ability to serve clients and community particularly enhanced, compared to other anticipated benefits.

On the downside, participants reported less trust of their partners after a year of closer collaboration. I guess you could call that the onset of reality and end of the honeymoon.

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