Community health workers can support, guide and encourage patients to manage their health over the long term. Many poor countries use CHWs on an enormous scale. This is a crucial role in a country where vast numbers of people are sick with chronic lifestyle-related diseases. Doctors can’t help patients change their behavior in the 15 minutes they spend with each patient. But community health workers can.
In the United States, in 2010, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania began interviewing patients who lived in high-poverty neighborhoods about what they saw as barriers that kept them from getting health care, and kept them sick. Those responses — from long interviews with 115 patients — became the basis of the Penn Center and IMPaCT, which stands for “individualized management for patient-centered targets.”
The Penn Center is one of several new models hospitals are trying to make CHW programs sustainable. Another is program is Grand-Aides. Unlike the Penn CHWs, Grand-Aides don’t help with social or logistical issues. They are nurse extenders who get hundreds of hours of medical training. Each patient visit is supervised in real time by phone by a nurse, who makes all the decisions. A pilot at two pediatric Medicaid sites in Texas showed that the program cut readmissions by at least two-thirds. Learn more…
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