“We are in this together.” That is how the nation can tackle the spread of COVID-19. It is also how communities will recover from the pandemic.
Being in it together requires historically siloed sectors — health care, public health, and social services — to work together in new ways, not just during the pandemic, but to build sustainably aligned systems that can address complex challenges that affect community health, like COVID-19 and its economic impacts, and health equity.
Aligning Systems for Health, led by the Georgia Health Policy Center with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, believes that collaboratives will be more successful if they move toward cross-sector alignment, which involves building sustainable connections across organizations and sectors. These connection points include developing critical capacity around a shared purpose, governance structure, sustainable financing with incentives and accountability, and shared data and measurement systems, combined with external urgency, organizational capacity, and community engagement.
As part of the Georgia Health Policy Center’s ongoing efforts to identify factors strengthening cross-sector alignment, early observations from a review of the literature and surveys of alignment stakeholders relevant to the response to the COVID crisis reveal some early insights.
- By having the core elements of cross-sector alignment in place, local and regional systems possess greater capacity to address the social and economic effects of COVID-19.
- A sense of shared purpose across sectors, can prevent a local COVID-19 responses from being too narrowly focused on physical and health challenges.
- Community-based organizations are well-connected to their communities and understand on-the-ground needs, so while involving community members directly is preferable, community voice can still be included in response efforts by engaging community-based organizations as a proxy for individuals in the community.
Read about opportunities for cross-sector alignment during the COVID-19 pandemic in the latest installment of the Georgia Health Policy Center’s Finding Innovation and Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cross-Sector Alignment and the Response to COVID-19.