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County Partnerships: Lessons Learned from Ten Years Working with County Governments


County governments are on the frontlines of many of our nation’s most pressing challenges. From natural disasters and economic hardship to the opioid crisis and lingering public health issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, county leaders and workers are managing one crisis after another—and often, managing multiple crises at the same time. In addition to being responsive to these emergent needs, many of America’s 3,000+ counties are responsible for providing their residents with critical services like public safety and child protection. In part because of their sheer volume of responsibilities, counties are leading the way in creating innovative solutions to customer service and service delivery through county partnerships. 

Building Successful County Partnerships

Here at Unite Us, we’re proud to partner with counties doing incredible work for their constituents across the country. With rapidly growing partnerships in 44 states, we’ve driven change in all types of communities, from the smallest towns to the largest cities. Our policy team members, made up of former government employees with decades of experience in public service, serve as thought partners to county leaders looking for new, effective ways to get things done. Our cross-sector collaboration tools empower counties to leverage their full resources, understand community-level data, and transparently manage their funding. Our local, community engagement team members can amplify the work of public-sector and nonprofit employees. In the 10 years since Unite Us was founded, we’ve learned a lot about how county governments can best prepare county partnerships and programs for success. From community collaboration mechanisms to using data to measure success, here are our lessons learned on how Unite Us can best support county governments looking to get things done.  

1. Leveraging Community Partners to Ensure Collaboration

Local governments are home to incredible community-based organizations (CBOs) that support their constituents on a daily basis. From food pantries and transportation providers to housing shelters and workforce training programs, CBOs are trusted sources of support in the community. Too often, CBOs are underfunded and forced to operate in silos. As a result, the services they provide are fragmented and may fail to meet whole-person needs. Government can be the convenor, but often needs support with execution. That’s where we come in: Unite Us’ software bridges gaps by allowing CBOs, health systems, and governments to securely communicate and coordinate with each other to achieve shared goals. 

Community transformation is possible, but only when all parties are singing from the same sheet of music. While this is true for any type of health or social care transformation, it’s especially relevant for counties looking to shift toward a more holistic way to address residents’ needs. In those cases, it’s critical that local governments play a leading role in connecting health systems with social services providers to quickly and efficiently deliver services to constituents in need. 

2. Managing Federal, State, and Private Funding to Ease Administrative Burden

Local governments often manage complex, braided funding streams. From federal and state grants to philanthropy dollars to opioid abatement funds, managing the specific reporting and billing constraints that come along with these funds can place additional burdens on already overworked staff. Unite Us provides the technological infrastructure to manage different funding streams to ease the administrative burden and maximize impact. We facilitate social care funding through our platform by providing data and up-to-date reporting on where the funding is going and how it is being used. 

3. Driving Community Engagement Toward Better Health Outcomes

No matter the ZIP code, we know that providing children and families with the resources they need to succeed is critical to the overall health and well-being of any community. What sets Unite Us apart is that our team members aren’t just assigned to support counties from a remote office building somewhere—they live in the communities they serve and are deeply engaged in community work. 

When a local government joins a network of coordinated care, constituents of all backgrounds benefit from this local perspective. As a true partner to this work, Unite Us can help you: 

  • Facilitate connections to a variety of healthcare and care coordination programs, including mobile clinics and health education programs. 
  • Address rural transportation issues by establishing partnerships with transportation services such as taxi or bus services.
  • Leverage paramedics and other community health workers to provide preventive services for those at risk of poorer health outcomes. 

4. Providing Data and Measurement Tools to Track the Success of Public-Private Partnerships

No partnership can be effective unless all parties involved agree on common goals and have access to the same data and measurement tools used to track progress. Often, government agencies track data differently than the CBOs they work with, or even other agencies in their state or county. As a result, it can be incredibly challenging—if not impossible—to measure the effectiveness of any intervention or program. 

When counties join a Unite Us network, they gain access to a data collection and tracking system that is responsive to their specific progress needs and allows all partners to evaluate outcomes the same way. Shared measurement and data is the key that gives leaders the information they need to tailor programs to maximize efficiency and amplify their impact. 

county partnership workflow

5. Enabling Whole-Person Service Delivery

Counties have the agility and flexibility to drive innovative solutions that are harder to achieve at state or federal levels. Increasingly, counties are adopting a whole-person model of health care that prioritizes social drivers of health (SDoH) just as much as the physical symptoms people experience. By connecting healthcare providers with government agencies and CBOs, Unite Us breaks down silos that threaten to derail whole-person care. And with our closed-loop referral system, leaders can have confidence that a patient’s SDoH needs are actually being addressed and treated. 

No matter what challenges you want to address in your county, Unite Us is ready to provide the technology and expertise to make it happen. Reach out to us today to learn more. 

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About Unite Us

Unite Us is the nation’s leading software company bringing sectors together to improve the health and well-being of communities. We drive the collaboration to identify, deliver, and pay for services that impact whole-person health. Through Unite Us’ national network and software, community-based organizations, government agencies, and healthcare organizations are all connected to better collaborate to meet the needs of the individuals in their communities.