Patient navigators could be effective in closing racial disparities in primary care access, according to new data, with the healthcare professionals able to connect more Hispanic patients than if patients went at it alone.
The report, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, particularly showed that Hispanic patients working with a patient navigator were three times more likely to have primary care access than those who did not.
This comes as Hispanic people face a significant disparity in primary care access, the researchers, who hailed from the Keck School of Medicine at UCLA, pointed out. Despite care access gains made following Affordable Care Act passage, low-income Latino people were still less likely to have a primary care provider. Only about a third of Latino people report having a primary care provider, the researchers said.
“Aside from uninsurance, several factors may contribute to lower rates of access to primary care among low-income Latinos, including immigration status, language barriers, lower levels of education, and low rates of public and private insurance acceptance among primary care providers,” the researchers wrote. “In combination, these factors further exacerbate the difficulties of navigating a complex health care system.”
But community health workers, or community-based patient navigators, can help change that, the researchers found. In an analysis of the LA County Children’s Health Outreach Initiative (CHOI), which despite its name serves people of all ages, the researchers uncovered a boost in primary care access.