What makes collaborations work? A look at the Sarasota County System of Care.

What makes collaborations work? A look at the Sarasota County System of Care.

Posted on December 17, 2012 by Michael Corley

Almost one year ago, I wrote a blog discussing why The Patterson Foundation invested in supporting the Sarasota County Health Safety Net System of Care initiative. With a community update shared Tuesday to the Sarasota County Commission, I wanted to share more about what makes this collaboration work well.

The objective of this initiative is to develop a health care system of care that could preserve the quality of care being provided to uninsured and underinsured in Sarasota County. This objective is logical, supported by the community, and on the surface, quite straightforward. But as we have learned over the past year, nothing in health care is straightforward.

The health care landscape has changed almost daily during the time of this initiative:

- Accountable Care Act

- State of Florida

- Medicaid managed care

-Increased unemployment

-Increasing uninsured and underinsured, etc.

In this fluid environment, implementing strategic change is incredibly difficult. Despite these obstacles, the group has collaborated well and made meaningful progress for our community. As I reflect on the “Why and How was progress made,” I think of the five criteria TPF uses when entering into partnerships:

Leadership -Clearly the leaders of these organizations have a strong commitment to the creation and sustainability of a system of care. This leadership commitment has, in turn, permeated all the work groups and teams.

Willingness - The five steering committee members and more than 15 working group members (from all organizations) are committed to doing the difficult work and analysis to move this project forward.

Capacity - Despite full workloads each team member carries, each was/is able to dedicate time to meet on a regular basis to address very complex issues.

Culture - No participant seems to fear the inevitable change necessary to achieve the objectives. On the contrary, each participant seems driven to do the right thing for the citizens of our county.

Readiness - These three organizations had been meeting for several years to discuss a health care safety net. Trust was built through these initial discussions. The relationships were strong. The foundation had been laid. So when the time came to approach this issue, everyone was ready to move forward.

The common eligibility system and integrated electronic health record system are just the beginning – and these are in very early stages of implementation. The work is far from done, and the journey will continue for quite some time.  Fortunately, the collaboration is strong and each partner is committed to developing the best system of care possible.

Leadership…Willingness…Capacity…Culture…Readiness…  Five key words for collaboration success.



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