Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have a close understanding of the community they serve. They serve as links between the individual and health/social service agencies.
While community health workers work in all geographic settings, they are most often found working in communities where people have limited resources; lack access to quality health care; lack the means to pay for health care; or have other barriers to care.
Community health workers are important resources in improving patient experience of care. They build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.
Their impact often goes beyond the patient and the community. By acting as a connector between vulnerable populations and health care systems, community health workers ultimately educate providers and stakeholders about community needs and help contribute to a more accessible and equitable health care system.
Last month, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, announced that their community health worker program, Harlem Health Advocacy Partners, lead to health improvements among Harlem residents. Data show that after six months, more than 90 percent of HHAP health coaching participants made progress in achieving their health goals and community health workers helped the residents save over $200,000 in out of pocket costs due to problems such as billing errors, coverage disputes or expensive drug copays. Read more about this initiative click here