Health systems across the U.S. 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.
U.S. health systems have lagged in utilizing CHWs due to the absence of a scientifically-proven, standardized CHW model that is easy to implement and utilize.
Seeking to close that gap, Shreya Kangovi, MD 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 JAMA Internal Medicine.
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 launching the website, more than 400 institutions across the country - including Massachusetts General Hospital and The Pennsylvania Department of Health have accessed and utilized the online toolkit for program implementation tools.
Most recently, the team was awarded a three 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.
December 2017: IMPaCT is the signature program at the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, now seen as a national center of excellence for the research, application, and dissemination of effective population health programs. Since the program's inception, IMPaCT has been delivered to more than 5,500 patients in Philadelphia. It has also been adopted by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Keystone First - the largest Medicaid managed care provider in southeast Pennsylvania - for delivery to patients. The team is currently providing implementation assistance to eight partner organizations, including Partners HealthCare and UPMC Health Plan.