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Rural Health Information Hub

Develop a Business Case

It is important to develop a business case in the early stages of a program to describe the benefits of the rural community health program. A business case justifies the need for and value of a rural program or investment by examining whether the program addresses a current need or demand in the community and can be sustained over time. A business case is particularly important in rural areas for justifying costs and use of limited resources. This information may help leadership and management, sponsors and funders, and other stakeholders understand the importance of the program or investment.

Business Case Components

A business case is a concise document. The required elements may differ depending on the sponsor or funder. At a minimum, an effective business case describes the problem; identifies a solution; provides a rationale for the solution; outlines risks, costs, and benefits; and provides a timeline for return on investment.

Key components of a written business case include:

  • Executive Summary – Provides a concise overview of the topics addressed in the business case.
  • Background – Introduces the problem or need for the program and highlights service gaps in the community. Uses needs assessment data to connect the problem to the local community.
  • Solution or Project Description – Describes the preferred solution and explains how the solution will be implemented. Presents evidence of effectiveness, such as success stories and lessons from other programs. Describes the benefits of the program as well as its limitations and risks. Identifies the project approach, including existing resources and capacity to support implementation, and discusses potential for success. Presents the timeline for implementation.
  • Costs – Estimates the total costs, including direct costs (for example, staff and equipment) and indirect costs (for example, staff turnover and loss of productivity). Assesses program affordability and value.
  • Sustainability – Explores long-term strategies for sustainability, such as financing and reimbursement. Addresses return on investment. For more information, see Module 4: Evaluating Rural Programs on evaluating rural programs and Module 5: Planning for Funding and Sustainability on program funding and sustainability.

Implementation Considerations

It is important to tailor a business case to its specific audience. This can make it more compelling and persuasive. If the business case is intended for organizational leadership, for example, data can support organizational improvements and benefits, as well as return on investment. If the business case is for an external funder or sponsor, data can focus on community need and benefit, as well as sustainability.

Resources to Learn More

Business Case Toolkit
This online toolkit provides a step by step guide to creating a business case. Provides guidance on content, structure, and key considerations. Includes links to a business case template and additional resources.
Organization: British Heart Foundation