Health Care Coalitions:  Finally, A Well Oiled Machine

Health Care Coalitions: Finally, A Well Oiled Machine

Succeeding at coalition building is a task that will truly never be perfected, but then again, nothing is ever perfect.  What we can do as planners is look at our coalitions like a machine.  But let's start at the beginning...We have gone through a total of twelve articles, including this one, that specifically focused on coalition building, in which nine focus on barriers.  We have discussed the overall purpose of a coalition--what is it and why do we do it?  We have highlighted the common barriers of gaining buy-in, poor links to the community, failure of structure/leadership, turf issues, dominance, bad experiences, funding, lack of perceived benefit, failure to act, and lack of organizational capacity.  Read below for a walk through of each issue:

  • Coalition Building:  Getting Started:  With a shift in the alignment of capabilities and agencies, a new concept was formed in the whole community approach to health and medical emergency response...coalitions.
  • 2014 Goal:  Coalition Building:  A stronger, more resilient community requires connecting people and organizations through preparedness coalitions, so that they can cohesively and effectively respond to protect people in disasters.
  • Gaining Buy-in:  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.
  • Poor Links to the Community:  Having a Poor Link to the Community could divert your ultimate goals and set you back to working on the "buy-in" barrier.
  • Failure of Structure and/or Leadership:  A breakdown in leadership will have your coalition suffering....if you have a breakdown in structure, your cause will be the one suffering.
  • Turf Issues:  Turf issues can quickly drain the vitality out of a coalition and make collaboration nearly impossible.
  • Bad Experiences and Dominance:  Bad experiences or an over dominance of professionals have led to poorly planned strategies with an unwillingness to move forward.
  • Money Solves Everything...Right?  Funding: Any funding is better than no funding, right? Not so fast! Let's look at some important things to consider when accepting funding for your coalition.
  • Lack of Perceived Benefit:  In order to cultivate participation, you must outline the value for the participant.  In other words, spell out "What's in it for me?" 
  • Failure to Act:  Your coalition started with purpose, but now, you're no longer sure what that was and are facing a breaking point on whether or not to continue.  The bottom line is that your coalition Failed to Act.
  • Lack of Organizational Capacity:  This simply means that there is an inability to fulfill the coalition's functional elements it needs to run smoothly.  In other words, the actual processes and/or skills needed to make the coalition work are lacking.

As I close this series on coalition building, I feel it is important to know that we ALL take repeated falls and we ALL face barriers, but we ALL are able to get back up, take a step back, and find a solution(s) to the problem(s).  We ALL have the capacity within our own coalitions to fix the barriers and apply different strategies to make it work.  When you face an issue, approach it as if you have never encountered it before.  Complete an evaluation process on your coalition, and run through the barriers listed above to see which may be the problem.  Find your weak spot, and work to fix it.  Your community needs a functional coalition, especially when disaster is always around the corner.  We need to have:


All of those pieces above are parts of a coalition machine.  In order for a coalitions to function and be effective they need to work together like a well oiled machine does.  However if your missing a piece or it is starting to lose its passion, then the whole machine fails.  As coalition builders and planners we are in a planning capacity where information and tasks need to flow readily and we are also very fortunate to be in an environment where leadership is evident and widespread.

"Success is not Final, Failure is not Fatal; It is the COURAGE to CONTINUE that counts."    -- Winston Churchill




Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Independent Consultant

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we're on a mission

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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