Community Health Worker Programs

A group of community health workers talking.
What is a Collection?

Playbook Collections explore interventions that address the needs of people with complex needs by curating available peer-reviewed research, case studies, tools, and on-the-ground perspectives. Resources help address: What is the evidence for an intervention? What does it look like in practice? and How can I do it? Although not exhaustive, Collections will evolve as new and promising research and other resources are available.

Community health workers (CHWs), also referred to as community health representatives, promotoras, and peer navigators, are trusted health professionals who share life experience with the individuals and communities they serve. CHWs bridge health care and social services and perform a range of roles, such as health education, care coordination, care transitions support, and connection to social services.

An increasing number of initiatives for people with complex needs are integrating CHWs into care teams to more effectively address health-related social needs across a range of settings, including medical and behavioral health providers, public health, and managed care organizations. There is a growing evidence base for the impact of CHW programs on improving health and cost outcomes and advancing health equity.

Health care stakeholders can use this Better Care Playbook Collection to understand the evidence behind CHW programs, as well as practical strategies to support effective implementation of these programs. CHW programs featured in this collection focus on improving care for a range of populations with complex health and social needs, including Medicaid enrollees, individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, justice-involved individuals, people with serious illness, and others.

What works in community health worker programs?

Following are summaries of peer-reviewed research, evaluations, and reports on community health worker programs. Many of these programs have demonstrated positive results, such as improved health outcomes and reduced costs and utilization.

What do these programs look like in practice?

Below find on-the-ground perspectives or experiences in implementing community health worker programs. Case studies outline details that may be useful for organizations interested in implementing these or similar interventions.

How can my organization implement these approaches?

Following are practical tools and strategies that health systems and providers, health plans, policymakers, and other interested organizations can use when seeking to create or improve housing programs and supports.