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Public-Private Partnerships Can Inspire Innovation In Health Care

  • Government Affairs

Public-private partnerships are considered "creative alliances" formed between a government entity and a private corporation often to address a large-scale issue. Other organizations have joined such partnerships—including non-governmental institutions, such as health care providers and educational institutions; nonprofit associations, such as community-based organizations; and intermediary groups, such as business improvement districts. Citizens and neighborhood groups also have a stake in the process.

These partnerships have inspired innovative solutions involving every aspect of improving the health of our communities. Delivering quality and deliberate health services is essential for the protection and improvement of our communities. And, at the core, housing stability, quality, safety, and affordability all affect health outcomes, as do physical and social characteristics of neighborhoods. Health care is extremely costly in the United States and providers have scarce resources. Therefore, public-private partnerships have flourished in the health care sector to address issues such as access to healthcare and affordable housing.

The shift in spending from institutional to home- and community-based settings reflects how states and municipalities are moving toward health collaboration policies. These public-private partnerships are driving economic diversification, which can lead to an even more promising future for health innovation.

For example, the closure of the Sonoma State Development Center (SDC) required finding homes for some of the most medically challenged clients in the North Bay and East Bay areas of California. As the closure deadline approached, the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) needed to quickly find homes for these individuals. Scioto Properties proposed a turnkey solution to find a total of 13 homes for all the remaining clients in the Sonoma SDC. The primary objectives included: quickly finding and acquiring adequate single-family residences within six months; financing for the acquired 13 homes; working with the California DDS, providers, and families on designing and developing the required renovations; and providing project supervision during renovations of the homes.

Scioto purchased 13 homes that the company fully renovated. Scioto was able to provide capital to purchase the homes; ADA housing design and development expertise to modify the homes for the needs of the individuals; collaboration with the California DDS, providers and families to provide beautiful and functional community homes for individuals to enjoy; and Sonoma SDC was able to discharge the last remaining clients and close the facility.

Cross-sector collaboration that integrates health and community development is occurring across the United States. This requires public health organizations to work with other sectors that have the expertise and resources needed to improve essential determinants that reside beyond public health's scope of practice. Hospitals and health care systems, serving as "anchor institutions," have collaborated to invest in affordable housing, local food sourcing, sustainability, creation of green space, and support for youth and workforce development in low-income communities. These mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships drive new business ventures to advance national and local public health goals, such as improving the quality of service delivery and expanding access to care.