This manual is intended to support community-level efforts to improve access to care by coordinating care and other resources through Collaborative Networks. Collaborative Networks are structured coalitions of local partners who organize and integrate medical, preventative and community resources into a coordinated system of care for people who are experiencing disparities in both access to care and health. They do this by connecting their clients to healthcare and by leveraging community resources including:
- Donated primary and specialty care, hospital services, medications and labs/diagnostics
- Community-based chronic disease self-management classes and peer-support groups
- Affordable transportation, healthy food and housing.
Collaborative Networks also provide direct client interventions that improve patient activation, healthcare navigation and healthcare literacy. Besides improving access to care, other positive outcomes of Collaborative Networks are reduced duplication of services, improved quality of care and cost avoidance. In 2017, 20 Collaborative Networks in North Carolina connected over 40,000 clients to free or affordable healthcare, engaged over 10,000 volunteer physicians and leveraged $54,700,000 in donated services.
Collaborative Networks have the potential to align local health equity efforts by focusing on reaching populations who experience health disparities and who have been historically marginalized and excluded because of their race, ethnicity, income, disability, immigration status or combination of those markers of identity.
This manual provides step-by-step guidance for how multiple stakeholders can work together to develop key infrastructure needed to design and implement a Collaborative Network including:
- Developing a Collaborative Network backbone team and eligibility screening processes
- Recruiting volunteer physicians
- Organizing orientations to welcome new clients
- Effectively engaging clients so that they can better understand their health, set goals and advocate for themselves with healthcare and social services providers.
Each module provides guidance that supports communities in aligning efforts and designing transparent processes to support multi-stakeholder collaboration. This manual also includes tips, templates and effective promising practices that other Collaborative Networks have used.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) reduced the overall uninsured rate for adults in North Carolina. However, key decisions such as state government’s decision to not expand Medicaid and the current federal administration’s attempts to undermine the law by reducing funding for outreach, education and enrollment activities while shortening the open enrollment period has resulted in some North Carolinians still being without affordable coverage. The ACA also uses rules first implemented under the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act to completely restrict access to coverage for undocumented immigrants and requires legal residents to wait 5 years before being able to access public benefits.
This means that many in our state are still in need of access to high quality, affordable healthcare and compassionate, affirming client engagement. Collective Networks are an effective strategy for communities to address these needs. We developed this manual to support your efforts. We are happy to share this information with you and wish you the best in collaborating for health equity!
About this Resource Guide
- How it is organized
- What it offers
- Who has been involved