Rethinking value: Perspectives on the benefits of cross-sector collaboratives serving populations with complex health and social needs

Data analysis & integration Strengthening ecosystems of care Funding & financing Measurement & evaluation

Cross-sector collaboration is recognized as an important step in improving health equity and addressing the collective challenges facing healthcare, the social sector, and public health organizations at the community level. However, different sectors and community stakeholders continue to operate under siloed cultural, operational, and funding structures and contexts.

We explored how different organizations and community members define and measure the value of cross-sector collaboration through key informant focus groups with organizations and affiliated community members involved in cross-sector collaborations. These conversations led to the  identification of four underlying dimensions that contribute to participants’ understanding of “value:”

  • intrinsic benefits,
  • community engagement,
  • outcomes, and
  • sustainable system-level change

Even with this small sample of cross-sector collaboration participants, our findings show that defining value as primarily linked to financial considerations does not reflect the nuanced and holistic understanding of this concept. As such, we would expect understandings of “value” to be even more rich and dynamic across the full and diverse ecosystem of such collaboratives, demonstrating the importance of exploring and defining “value” as part of collaborative work.

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