Aligning Forces for Quality multi-stakeholder healthcare alliances: do they have a sustainable future?

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVES: Multi-stakeholder healthcare alliances in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) program brought together diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to improve healthcare in their local communities. This article evaluates how well the AF4Q alliances were collectively positioned to sustain themselves as AF4Q program support ended. METHODS: This analysis relied on a mixed-methods design using data from a survey of more than 700 participants in 15 of the 16 AF4Q alliances (1 alliance was unable to participate because it was in the process of closing down operations at the time of survey implementation), qualitative interviews with leaders in all 16 of the alliances, and secondary sources. Qualitative analysis of interview data and secondary sources were used to develop a classification of alliance strategic directions after the AF4Q program relative to their strategies during the AF4Q initiative. Descriptive analyses of survey data were conducted in the following areas: (1) alliance priorities for sustainability, (2) alliance positioning for sustainability, and (3) alliance challenges to sustainability. RESULTS: The likelihood of sustainability and the strategic direction of the former AF4Q alliances are both decidedly mixed. A substantial number of alliances are at risk because of an unclear strategic direction following the AF4Q program, poor financial support, and a lack of relevant community leadership. Some have a clear plan to continue on the path they set during the program. Others appear likely to continue to operate, but they plan to do so in a form that differs from the neutral convener multi-stakeholder model emphasized during the AF4Q program as they specialize, make a major shift in focus, develop fee-for-service products, or focus on particular stakeholder groups (ie, employers and providers). In most cases, preserving the organization itself, rather than its programmatic activities from the AF4Q program era, appeared to receive the greatest emphasis in sustainability efforts. CONCLUSION: As their core strategy, most alliances will not perpetuate the original AF4Q program vision of diverse local stakeholders coming together to implement a prescribed set of aligned interventions centered on healthcare improvement.
  • Authors

    Published In


  • Community Health Services, Forecasting, Foundations, Humans, Intersectoral Collaboration, Managed Care Programs, Organizational Objectives, Quality Improvement, Quality of Health Care, United States
  • Author List

  • Alexander JA; Hearld LR; Wolf LJ; Vanderbrink JM
  • Start Page

  • s423
  • End Page

  • s436
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 12 Suppl