News  |  May 15, 2018

Two important characteristics of public health innovation are internal or cross-sector collaboration and co-production of the innovation with partners and stakeholders. Given the complex nature of public health challenges, the concept of partnerships is also widely recognized as imperative to addressing the social determinants of health and achieving a culture of health. As the landscape shifts around us, increasingly, health departments are turning to partners within and outside of traditional public health to help meet the needs of their communities. With this in mind, PHNCI awarded grants to nine agencies implementing innovations to advance a culture of health, each with a clear focus on cross-sector partnerships. While each of the funded initiatives is unique, all the grantees are working closely with a variety of partners to successfully carry-out their innovations.

To encourage and inspire health departments, PHNCI’s latest resource, Multi-sector Partnerships and Innovation, highlights the different categories of partners that grantees have engaged for meaningful collaboration and co-production of their innovations, and shows which categories are most often engaged.

Health departments have often been cited as having engaged with partners and residents for community health improvement planning, and now, are leveraging those and other relationships to bring the benefits of partnerships to bear on other aspects of their work, whether it’s health in all policies, working with data, addressing mental health, and more. Engaging with multi-sector partners and the community to co-produce products, services, and policies can bring additional perspectives, break down silos, help with both identifying and addressing community needs, and in developing solutions that are likely to better meet those needs. This is the essence of human-centered design, another key facet of innovation. Partners may also be better situated within the community to execute solutions, whether due to resources, location, or existing relationships and trust with the community.

Health departments in any phase of innovation should consider the partners they have at the table. This resource can serve as a starting point to understanding how these grantees are strategically engaging partners and the community to advance population health.

Are you working with cross-sector partners to implement a public health innovation? We would love to hear about it!