Improving primary health care through partnerships: Key insights from a cross-case analysis of multi-stakeholder partnerships in two Canadian provinces.
journal contributionposted on 19.10.2021, 03:56 by Ekaterina Loban, Catherine Scott, Virginia LewisVirginia Lewis, Susan Law, Jeannie Haggerty
Background and Aims: Multi-stakeholder partnerships offer strategic advantages in addressing multi-faceted issues in complex, fast-paced, and rapidly-evolving community health contexts. Synergistic partnerships mobilize partners' complementary financial and nonfinancial resources, resulting in improved outcomes beyond that achievable through individual efforts. Our objectives were to explore the manifestations of synergy in partnerships involving stakeholders from different organizations with an interest in implementing organizational solutions that enhance access to primary health care (PHC) for vulnerable populations, and to describe structures and processes that facilitated the work of these partnerships. Methods: This was a longitudinal case study in two Canadian provinces of two collaborative partnerships involving decision makers, academic representatives, clinicians, health system administrators, patient partners, and representatives of health and social service organizations providing services to vulnerable populations. Document review, nonparticipant observation of partnerships' meetings (n = 14) and semi-structured in-depth interviews (n = 16) were conducted between 2016 and 2018. Data analysis involved a cross-case synthesis to compare the cases and framework analysis to identify prominent themes. Results: Four major themes emerged from the data. Partnership synergy manifested itself in the following: (a) the integration of resources, (b) partnership atmosphere, (c) perceived stakeholder benefits, and (d) capacity for adaptation to context. Synergy developed before the intended PHC access outcomes could be assessed and acted both as a dynamic indicator of the health of the partnership and a source of energy fuelling partnership improvement and vitality. Synergistic action among multiple stakeholders was achieved through enabling processes at interpersonal, operational, and system levels. Conclusions: The partnership synergy framework is useful in assessing the intermediate outcomes of ongoing partnerships when it is too early to evaluate the achievement of long-term intended outcomes. Enabling processes require attention as part of routine partnership assessment.