The PARTNER Team (Program to Analyze, Record, and Track Networks to Enhance Relationships) and its supporting technical assistance and quality improvement process, is recognized as a beneficial component of understanding and enhancing collaborative efforts. PARTNER was launched as a social network analysis tool in 2008 with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The tool is now the center of a process of assessment, analysis, systems building enhancement, and relationship strengthening. A growing community of users has increased the demand for technical assistance from the PARTNER team. Accordingly, PARTNER has grown to a dynamic team of experts skilled in systems evaluation, using an interorganizational network approach. The PARTNER team is deeply engaged in facilitation, evaluation, research, and tool building, specifically related to organizational network and systems evaluations. The foundation of this work is a community-based participatory approach.
PARTNER was created in 2007, with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2007, Danielle Varda et al. (2008) designed the PARTNER tool to focus on measuring the process of collaboration, particularly the social infrastructure of interactions between members of public health collaboratives. In 2009, PARTNER went “online”, reprogrammed as an online database management and survey tool. As a result of a partnership between Varda and the University of CO Denver’s Computer Science Department, a group of students took on PARTNER in the Spring of 2009 as their Senior Project. The work they did on PARTNER was estimated to be worth approximately $65,000. They successfully made PARTNER more sophisticated and user friendly for a very broad audience. In 2010, Dr. Varda was awarded a second grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Office of Public Health to enhance and expand the use of PARTNER among public health departments around the country. With the funding, she was able to expand the PARTNER team to work on both the technical and academic sides of PARTNER. The results have been significant, with both enhancements to the PARTNER tool and website, a large and growing community of users, and several journal publications in print. In 2012, the RWJF once again awarded Varda a grant to support the continued use of PARTNER by the public health sector, and to create a sustainability plan for the long term. The PARTNER team has expanded their services and has authored a new tool to assess personal networks (the Patient-Centered Network App). The team and tools are funded by a diversified funding portfolio and continues to grow as part of the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affair’s Center on Collaborative Governance.
As of 2016, PARTNER has been used by over 750 communities and there are two times that many communities in the process of using the tool. To date, more than 1500 people have registered to use the PARTNER tool, with the largest growth in the last 4 years. The number of new users who registered to use PARTNER and the number of surveys created for implementation (called Collaboratives) have increased 419% since 2009 and continues to rise. The top users in the United Sates are in Colorado, California, New York, North Carolina. Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Washington, New Hampshire, Georgia, Washington D.C. , Kansas, and Illinois. Countries that use PARTNER include: Canada, UK, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, India, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia, Malaysia, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, and Cameroon, among others.