Health Care Coalitions:  Gaining Buy-In

Health Care Coalitions: Gaining Buy-In

Gaining buy-in can be easy and yet difficult at the same time, but honing in on your skills as a preparedness leader could help you get the right people at your table to move forward and build a great healthcare coalition for your community.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR) defines the purpose of healthcare coalitions as "a ‘single functional entity’ of healthcare facilities and other healthcare assets to organize and implement the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery actions of medical and healthcare providers in a jurisdiction’s healthcare system.”  In other words, the healthcare coalition's general mission should be to work as one cohesive unit to support their jurisdiction(s) in planning, response, and mitigation efforts in a potential disaster or emergency.

For Healthcare Coalitions to achieve their response goals during an incident, they must have the capability to address the time stresses and uncertainty of major healthcare emergencies using the Whole Community Approach concept in response.  As with any project, there are barriers to getting things started or to keeping it going.  Everyone's barriers will be different, but what I would like to do is write about each one specifically.  I would like to share with you some strategies or insights that I have found though research and experience.  The first I will start with is "Buy-In."

Buy-In Across Coalition Partners--A diverse grouping of raised hands

One of the main barriers for many coalitions is gaining sufficient buy-in and involvement from the coalition members.  Some coalition members may reject the idea on a personal level or are uninterested in engaging in the project outcomes.  Some members may only be at the table to "check the box" or are only there because they were told to.  Whatever the reason, the good news is that you do have representation from your community partners.  You will just have to work on getting them to share the same passion as the coalition, so that everyone can operate on the same page.  If everyone is operating on the same page, then everyone will respond on the same page, putting forth a responsive and cohesive healthcare coalition.


Here are some things you can do to try and gain more buy-in:


  • Be as inclusive and participatory as you can.  Try to involve everyone in generating vision and mission statements, planning, and major decisions.  The more people feel ownership of the coalition itself, the harder they'll be willing to work to achieve its goals and the less likely they'll be to allow turf issues or minor conflicts to get in the way of the coalition's progress.
  • Get to the "root!"  Find out why they are so resistant to the your coalition's objectives, and try to work on easing or clarifying the concerns the person may have.  It is important to realize that it may be more personal than professional, but if the personal fear is eased or clarified, the person will be willing to move forward.
  • Ease work load fears.  Identify a specific set of purposes – and policies – to help ease fears and keep a sense of balance between your efforts and your goals.
  • Know your stuff.   Develop your message and know what you’re talking about.  Be ready to provide statistics and any other data to support your initiative.
  • Make good use of time!

* Develop a clear criteria of your goals and objectives.

* Have a clear work purpose/tasks for each meeting.  Don't meet to just meet.  If this is happening, you'll want to change your agenda or members will lose their interest in the coalition.  If there is no movement in the goals and objectives, your coalition is at risk of failing.

* Stay on topic.  There are always times for extra discussion, but it's important to know when to allow and when to stop the extra conversations.

  • Understand the needs and interests of each prospective member.  If they are resistant to the idea, an objective, or the overall project, try to see it from their view point.
  • Use other key coalition members to talk to other potential members to gain the buy-in.  Sometimes, it is easier to identify the hold-up with someone they already know.
  • Always highlight the benefits and reiterate why you're doing work as one cohesive unit to support their jurisdiction(s) in planning, response, and mitigation efforts in a potential disaster or emergency.

As I end, I want to leave you with a quote I found by Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Remember, gaining buy-in is all about speaking to people and understanding what their need is.  If you want people on your side and inline with your passions, you need to figure out how to reach them.  Keep checking back for next week's barrier:  Failure of Structure.

* University of Kansas, Community Tool Box
* See Original Article - 2014 Goal: Coalition Building.
* See more at:  Coalition Building:  Getting Started.
* From Hospitals to Healthcare Coalitions:  Transforming Health Preparedness and Response in Our Communities. 2009; Available at:

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Independent Consultant

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In all we do, we seek to reduce human suffering and loss of life caused by disasters.

We get it done by connecting the preparedness efforts of healthcare organizations, emergency management agencies, and public health departments through effective, financially self-sustaining healthcare coalitions.

Yes, we believe healthcare coalitions are the path forward.

Karl Schmitt, Passionate Founder & CEO, bParati

Karl SchmittPassionate Founder & CEO

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