Establishing both internal and external partnerships is critical to sustaining and scaling successful pharmacy medication management services. The 2016 American Hospital Association’s Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) 2.0 Final Report stated that, through collaboration and partnerships, teams were able to align with and create synergy with other projects, “which reduces the duplication of efforts and enhances the outcomes.”1 The CDC recognizes the potential for establishing partnerships with pharmacists, too, and in their Partnering with Pharmacists in the Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases, and provides examples and a framework for building these partnerships.2

The A3 Collaborative, a combined effort by ASHP, Apexus, and the Alliance for Integrated Medication Management (AIMM), identifies and shares strategies for teams to build sustainable comprehensive medication management (CMM) services. When there are limited resources, developing partnerships can be an effective strategy for sustainability and scale. Twenty-eight health care organizations from across the country formed a CMM team and participated in the 2017/2018 A3 Collaborative. In a recent A3 Collaborative learning event, these teams shared their breakthrough learnings around forming critical partnerships, both internal and external, and to also 1) Briefly share the nature of this partnership (with whom, and why?), and 2) Share their biggest insights (what worked, and what didn’t?).

Examples of internal and external partnerships identified by the A3 Collaborative teams are listed below.. Most of them emphasized the importance of building internal partnerships when initiating CMM services. External partnerships are particularly important when implementing programs with broad public health improvement goal, advancing CMM services in such areas as transitions of care and when resources are limited.

Key Partnerships to Consider: 

Internal Partnerships: 

  • Key members of the medical staff including:
    • chief medical officer
    •  lead practice physicians
  • Nursing staff
  • Ancillary stakeholders including:
    • respiratory therapists
    • nurse navigators

External Partnerships 

  • Hospital patient advisory groups
  • state Medicaid
  • local employers
  • nursing homes
  • partnering hospitals
  • pharmacy schools
  • local or state health departments
  • community pharmacies
  • regional quality improvement organizations (QIO’s)


The A3 Collaborative teams shared their experience and lessons learned for building partnerships and their insights are below. There were five broad recommendations to consider when forming partnerships for CMM programs: 1) Share the purpose of the work with potential partners concisely and frequently; 2) Seek out colleagues with expertise and who can help connect with partners; 3) Align purpose to reach similar goals; 4) Create sustainable partnerships; and 5) Build capacity through partnerships.


Key Elements of Building Successful Partnerships:

1. Share the purpose of the work with potential partners concisely and frequently

  • Leading with the Patient – Present material with a story and describe the overall impact on patient care and scope of project, and then discuss the business impact, such as medication cost/revenue
  • Emphasize Patient Impact – When telling stories, highlight the overall purpose to improve patients’ lives (e.g. though safe transitions of care)
  • Highlighting Reach and Alignment – Share potential reach/impact of your proposal and how it aligns with current work within the organization and community

2. Seek out team members with expertise and who can help connect with partners

  • Form a Team with Urgency – Bring the right team together and engage people early
  • Draw on Team Resources – Leverage the expertise and networks of all team members
  • Surface the Early Adopters – Consider how early adopters might influence others
  • Create Champions – Identify and engage champions to advocate for change
  • Expand Team Through Partnerships – Invite potential partners to join the team

3. Strive to align purpose to reach similar goals

  • Do Not “Re-invent the Wheel” – Share resources with organizations or people within your organization
  • Make Request and Offers – Remember, all parties in partnership have requests and offers

4. Create sustainable partnerships

  • Prepare for the Future – As you build partnerships, think about depth of partnerships to ensure a succession plan when there is turnover

5. Build capacity through external partnerships

  • Go Outside Your Four Walls – Engage other organizations to create intended impact and spread
  • All Teach, All Learn – Build capacity of the clinical pharmacy community by educating others


1The American Hospital Association/Health Research & Educational Trust Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) 2.0 FINAL PROJECT REPORT, accessed on line 10/6/18 at

2Partnering with Pharmacists in the Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases, accessed on line 10/6/18 at