Demonstrated Health Care Cost Savings for Women: Findings from a Community Health Worker Intervention Designed to Address Depression and Unmet Social Needs

Authors
Ellen Robin Embick
Daniel D. Maeng
Iwona Juskiewicz
Catherine Cerulli
Hugh F. Crean
Marsha Wittink
Ellen Poleshuck
Peer-Reviewed Article
June 2020

Community health workers (CHWs) connect underserved individuals to health and social services, offering the potential to help reduce health care costs associated with mental health issues by addressing unmet social needs. This randomized controlled trial evaluated the impact of Personalized Support for Progress — a patient-centered CHW intervention for low-income women with depression — on all-cause total cost of care for 12 months before and after the intervention, compared to a less intense care model.

After receiving this four-month CHW intervention, patients experienced a significant reduction of over 30 percent in total charge amounts, as well as a reduction in high-cost encounters such as emergency department visits and inpatient encounters related to labor and delivery. Patient-centered, CHW interventions that address unmet social needs of patients may be a cost-effective method to lessen health care utilization and costs.

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Key Questions Answered
  • Does a community health worker intervention for low-income women with depression reduce utilization and costs?
Level of Evidence
Strong
What does this mean?