For decades, California, like much of the United States, has struggled with gaps in its health care workforce. Today, seven million Californians live in Health Professional Shortage Areas—a federal designation for counties experiencing shortfalls of key health care providers. These shortages disproportionately affect California’s low-income population and Latinx, Black, and Native American communities, and are most severe in some of California’s largest and fastest-growing regions, including Los Angeles, San Joaquin Valley, the Inland Empire, and most rural areas.

The crisis is expected to worsen in the next decade as the state’s population continues to age and grow more diverse and as Baby Boomers in the health workforce retire. By the year 2030, California faces a shortage of 4,100 primary care providers and 600,000 home care workers and will have only two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs. These deficiencies will exacerbate already serious problems with rising health care costs, timely access to care, and disease prevention.

To find long-term solutions to the workforce crisis, the California Health Care Foundation, California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation came together in 2017. It was the first time all five foundations had collaborated on an initiative. As contributors to the project, the authors' collective work included helping with project design and product review, overseeing and supporting grantees and partners, editing and distributing a final report, and analyzing the entire undertaking to suggest improvements for future multi-funder collaborations.

Though the foundations shared a common aim, their priorities and approaches were different. Some primarily wanted to improve access to health care services. Others wanted to address the ethnic and racial diversity of the health workforce or increase the number of non-clinical staff, such as community health workers or peer specialists.  However, they all agreed on the need for collaboration.

Read the full article about effective collaboration by Karin Bloomer, Kathryn Phillips, and Earl Lui at Stanford Social Innovation Review.