At the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS, https://www.chcs.org/), we have the opportunity to work with a variety of organizations throughout the United States who are engaged in caring for low-income Americans. As part of that work we collaborate with providers on the cutting edge of coordinating care for patients with complex medical and social needs, through running the Complex Care Innovation Lab (https://www.chcs.org/project/complex-care-innovation-lab/), which brings together innovators in improving care for high-need, high-cost patients, and managing the Transforming Complex Care Initiative (https://www.chcs.org/project/transforming-complex-care/), which supports six organizations that do such work in a diverse range of delivery system, payment, and geographic environments.
A number of the organizations with which we work employ community health workers and have integrated them into interdisciplinary care teams to address the complex medical and social needs of their patients. Drawing on the expertise of our partner sites and Drs. Heidi Behforouz and Clemens Hong from Anansi Health (http://anansi-health.launchrock.com/) – who have been collaborating in this area for 12 years, and will be providing their insights through our responses and discussions here at the Global Health Development panel – we conferred with our partner sites and learned about the “nuts and bolts” ways in which they successfully integrated community health workers into their care teams.
Reflecting on their experiences, my colleague Caitlin Thomas-Henkel and I identified common challenges and the ways in which the sites addressed them in an issue brief, Integrating Community Health Workers into Complex Care Teams: Key Considerations (attached). The brief identified several effective strategies for integrating community health workers to maximize their impact: (1) thoughtfully approach the hiring process; (2) provide training and clear tracks for career progression; (3) promote full integration within the care team; and (4) build in meaningful supports to prevent burnout, fatigue, and turnover.
In the course of our work on community health workers, we have identified common challenges that sites face, and would love to hear about other organizations’ experiences. We welcome feedback from participants on these ideas and their own challenges and opportunities for integration of community health workers into their practices. In particular, we found that opportunities to demonstrate the community health workers’ value to the team supported successful integration, and we are interested in how other organizations helped physicians and other health care professionals recognize the contributions of their community health workers.
Link leads to: https://www.chcs.org/resource/integrating-community-health-workers-complex-care-teams-key-considerations/