Health systems across the United States are struggling to meet a daunting challenge: reduce health care costs while providing high-quality care to the sickest, most vulnerable patients. Other countries have responded to similar challenges by expanding their use of community health workers (CHWs), frontline health workers who are trusted members of the community and share life experiences with their patients. CHWs are inexpensive and have shown to be effective in improving the health outcomes of marginalized populations. However, the United States has lagged behind in utilizing CHWs due to the absence of a scientifically-proven, standardized CHW model that is easy for health systems to implement and utilize.
Seeking to close that gap, Dr. Shreya Kangovi and her team developed IMPaCT, an exportable model for care in which CHWs provide structured advocacy, social support and navigation to help low socioeconomic status patients achieve their health goals. Shortly after a center was established to foster the model, Kangovi started to receive requests from other health systems and payers interested in implementing the IMPaCT model. However, the team did not have the infrastructure or capacity necessary for dissemination.
We worked with Kangovi and her team to define IMPaCT’s mission and goals and develop a self-sustaining and adaptable business model for the program.
Together, we designed and launched interactive resources to support dissemination of the model, including a toolkit that provides guidelines for hiring, training and supporting CHWs, and a consultation service through which Kangovi’s team will work with organizations to assess local needs, tailor the model, and assist with the program launch.
The website tools launched in February 2014 on the same day that the team’s paper about the IMPaCT model was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Penn Center for Community Health Workers currently employs 40 full-time faculty and staff who provide health system navigation, social support, and advocacy to more than 1,500 high-risk patients annually.
Since February 2014, more than 400 institutions across the country - including Massachusetts General Hospital and The Pennyslvania Department of Health have accessed and utilized the online toolkit for program implementation tools.
Most recently, the team was awarded a 3-year, $1.5 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. The grant funds a multi-center randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of IMPaCT on chronic disease management.