Integrating Community Health Workers (CHWs) into Health Care Organizations

Authors: Payne J, Razi S, Emery K, Quattrone W, and Tardif-Douglin M
Year: 2017
State: NatDoc: National Document
Website link:
Publicly Available: Yes
Billing and Reimbursement:
Certification: CHW role scope of practice
Evidence Generation:
Sustainable Financing:
Workforce Development: CDC expand CHW work into SDOH, CHW training programs (not cert.), Data sharing between social services and clinical teams, General other (including mention of “employment practices”), Recruiting and convening CHWs stakeholders

Health care organizations increasingly employ community health workers (CHWs) to help address growing provider shortages, improve patient outcomes, and increase access to culturally sensitive care among traditionally inaccessible or disenfranchised patient populations. Scholarly interest in CHWs has grown in recent decades, but researchers tend to focus on how CHWs affect patient outcomes rather than whether and how CHWs fit into the existing health care workforce. This paper focuses on the factors that facilitate and impede the integration of the CHWs into health care organizations, and strategies that organizations and their staff develop to overcome barriers to CHW integration. We use qualitative evaluation data from 13 awardees that received Health Care Innovation Awards from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to enhance the quality of health care, improve health outcomes, and reduce the cost of care using programs involving CHWs. We find that organizational capacity, support for CHWs, clarity about health care roles, and clinical workflow drive CHW integration. We conclude with practical recommendations for health care organizations interested in employing CHWs.

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