Exploring the Path to Partnership for Academic Health Centers and American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

July 2018

The United States experiences poor health outcomes for a developed nation, driven by stark health disparities. Rural areas, including many American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities and reservations, face among the greatest barriers to health. The nation’s large academic health centers (AHCs) represent an underutilized resource that may be able to offer support for AI/AN community health priorities. In recent years, several large AHCs, including Massachusetts General Hospital and affiliates at Harvard Medical School, have begun new partnerships with AI/AN communities and health systems, joining a large but fractured group of such partnerships. Practical challenges limit cross-system collaboration: partnerships tend to involve a single AHC, limited geographic scope, intermittent involvement from other stakeholders, and one to two areas of collaboration. If properly leveraged, convening existing programs, including representatives of partner communities, will explore the path to more impactful partnerships. This event will offer programs a chance to share best practices and consider key opportunities in an effort to build a joint venture for the growth of AHC—rural AI/AN community partnership over the next decade. The Great Plains region, site of several new health-disparities-focused AHC partnerships, offers a timely opportunity to focus such a workshop in partnership with regional stakeholders. Products of the event will include the dissemination of best practices and a roadmap to strengthen community-AHC efforts to advance health equity.