Community Health Workers: Roles and Opportunities in Health Care Delivery System Reform

In January, an ASPE Issue Brief published by the Department of Health and Human Services  explored the potential of Community Health Workers (CHW) in contributing to improved health care delivery. Focused on providing information of U.S. policymakers, the issue brief — Community Health Workers: Roles and Opportunities in Health Care Delivery System Reformcovers : 1) roles of CHWs in health care delivery; 2) CHW training and credentialing; 3) a national profile of CHWs; 4) and evidence on the clinical impact of CHWs.

The author lists the main findings for the report as:

  • Community Health Workers (CHWs) are an emerging group of health professionals that have recently drawn increased national attention because of their potential to deliver cost-effective, high quality, and culturally competent health services within team-based care models.
  • The apparent benefits of integrating CHWs into health care teams seem to depend on context. The strongest evidence of these benefits supports utilizing CHWs to deliver certain specific, high-value, preventive services – focused on reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions – to low-income, minority, or other underserved populations.
  • Despite growing interest in engaging CHWs in national delivery system reform efforts, there are several uncertainties about how to best proceed with this. Questions remain around standardizing CHW training, certification, and licensure; establishing strong economic and other evidence to support their use; and securing reimbursement for their services to ensure financial sustainability of CHW programs.

Download the full ASPE Issue Brief to learn more about the potential of CHWs.