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From the President: Emerging Issues

 Making the Case for Public Health and Corporate Partnerships to Meet Workforce Needs and Community Health Goals

A review of "Good Health is Good Business"

Becky Goins
Program Associate, Health Systems Transformation
The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs 

A joint publication of the de Beaumont Foundation and the Bipartisan Party Center (BPC), Good Health is Good Business: The value proposition of partnerships between business and governmental health agencies to improve community health, demonstrates that by working in partnership, the public health and corporate sectors can reach their common goals of improving the health of their workforces and the communities they serve.

The organizations share similar missions. The de Beaumont Foundation promotes community health through investment in the public health workforce. The BPC is a think tank that fosters bipartisan solutions to improve health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. Good Health is Good Business makes the case that through individual value propositions, public health and corporate sector partnerships can be mutually beneficial. The report includes recommendations for developing and cultivating partnerships and avoiding obstacles, and provides case studies of successful collaborations.

A value proposition is an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. The report defines a value proposition as a statement that summarizes the expertise, resources, products, or services the parties bring to the table that add value to the other party based on common goals.

One area where both sectors can help each other address through value propositions is workforce needs. Public health can offer the business sector strategies to improve community health, expertise in community health promotion, and training and technical-assistance capabilities. Businesses benefit from these services through healthier workforce pools from which to select new hires; preparation of the future corporate workforce; and enhanced employee morale, job satisfaction, and productivity. Similarly, the business sector can offer resources that contribute to public health initiatives, as well as influence with policymakers. Public health agencies benefit from these services through renewed interest and investment in governmental public health agencies, including meeting urgent workforce needs.

Recommendations

Recognizing that public health agencies might be apprehensive about approaching private businesses with a value proposition, the report provides guidance to initiate the conversation with potential corporate partners. Recommendations include:

  • Developing a strategic map of corporate enterprises that are naturally drawn to public health work. Some might have robust employee wellness programs or are engaged in other community health initiatives. These businesses already have the capacity and bandwidth to work with the public health community.
  • Preparing an "ask."  Public health agencies should craft a "persuasive message tailored to the potential business partner that is specific, tied to measurable objectives, data-driven, and illustrates why a particular business should care about a proposed public health initiative." Here, it should be explained how the company is specifically equipped to work on issue in partnership with public health.
  • Recruiting passionate business leaders as champions for the initiative, ensuring that these initiatives last longer than that person's individual leadership.
  • Taking advantage of low-hanging fruit.  When business and public health identify their common problems and corresponding root causes, with each other as resources, the two entities can immediately focus on finding possible solutions and easy wins.  
  • Emphasizing the importance of measuring success and impacts of the partnership. Since major improvement on public health measures can take years, the partners should also define interim goals to maintain morale and motivation.
  • Distributing compelling case studies. Developing and disseminating examples of public health and corporate partnerships, and how they have achieved measurable results, is important for spreading these initiatives to other communities and states.

The value proposition is a useful tool for public health agencies to use in many types of corporate partnerships. Supporting each sector's workforce needs, among other mutually beneficial goals, is important because, as the report suggests, "business success and community health are intrinsically linked."