In value-based care, it takes a village of professionals to ensure patients are well cared for and practices meet benchmarks. Community health workers (CHWs) are emerging as key players in helping to achieve these goals.
CHWs are nonclinical healthcare professionals who support patients’ physical, mental, and social needs by connecting them to community resources and services. In doing so, they make sure patients receive comprehensive care when they are outside of their doctor’s office, while easing the burden on medical offices to do so.
Due to their deep understanding of the communities they serve—particularly the most vulnerable populations—CHWs recognize, and therefore are able to address, social determinants of health (SDOH) that often lead to disparities. CHWs also provide education, advocacy, and outreach opportunities, including:
- Health campaigns and promotions
- Translation and interpretation
- Nonclinical counseling and social support
- Transportation services
According to Cynthia Adams, an Innovista Health community health worker, finding the right services for patients requires seeing the big picture. “I look at patients’ underlying conditions, SDOH, and if there are any risks or barriers. I also look within the home and entire community, and depending on what I identify, I research what’s available to help and come back with solutions.”