Collaborate with Partners That Have Similar Goals

Key to Success 1 of Public Health Strategies to Help People with Cancer in Rural Communities

“We created an oncology network of navigators across the state to share resources, understand information, and help each other overcome barriers.”

Collaborations and partnerships support the success of public health programs by building influence, sharing resources, and reaching intended populations. During planning, health practitioners should identify partners with similar goals such as Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) hubs and patient navigation or clinic networks. Other potential partners include the Office of Rural Health in the US Department of Veterans Affairs, state medical associations, cancer coalitions, National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program award recipients or other programs within the health department, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Partners can promote the program, get health care providers involved, and reach out to and educate people with cancer.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment worked with its existing ECHO hub, which resulted in cost savings for Project ECHO implementation.

“The typical cost of an ECHO session in our state is pretty high, and we didn’t want to spend all our budget on ECHOs. We negotiated a [lower cost for four sessions] and worked with [our] ECHO hub [partner] to recycle content. … So, we used content and subjects used before and tailored them to a primary care audience with a rural focus.” [Kansas]

The Nevada Cancer Coalition mobilized its existing patient navigation and community health worker networks to create and set up a formal navigation network. These navigator networks advertised statewide through partner email newsletters and relied on word of mouth to engage patient navigators. Patient navigators met monthly to share community resources.

“We created an oncology network of navigators across the state to share resources, understand information, and help each other overcome barriers. That [network] feeds back into our navigation program. Because we deal with [people] all over the state, we can best direct them now when they call us and need to be linked to a facility navigator or social worker.” [Nevada]

Insights from Pilot Sites

  • Collaborate and partner with groups that have similar goals.
  • Take advantage of existing relationships for support, resources, and information.
  • Develop partnership agreements with clearly defined roles.
  • Build strong working relationships with partners to ensure continuous support for the program and resolve problems promptly.
  • Work with your partners to create an action plan.

Tips for Creating an Action Plan

Work with your partners to develop a clear action plan to guide your program’s implementation and evaluation. Pilot sites spent 4 to 6 weeks developing their action plans and implementation protocols. Here are the components to consider—

  1. Identify needs and gaps in survivorship care. Talk to local rural health care providers to assess gaps in care and community needs. Use existing sources of information when available.
  2. Choose the regions where you will focus your interventions. Consider selecting regions with high survivorship needs or cancer burden and primary care providers who are willing and able to connect to Project ECHO and patient navigation interventions.
  3. Create a logic model to guide your strategy and approach. Use the results of the needs assessment to select partners, tailor your interventions, and build connections between them.
  4. Develop a budget for implementation. Consider whether you will provide financial support to your partners or hire staff to implement the strategies.
  5. Identify and secure needed resources. Resources may include staff (to champion, implement, and monitor the pilot), subject matter experts (to develop ECHO learning sessions or deliver existing content), and any equipment or physical space needed for ECHO sessions.
  6. Write a work plan that outlines tasks, timeline, and people responsible for each task.
More Keys to Success for Improving Care for People with Cancer in Rural Areas