Community health workers in primary care provide clinical services, community resource connections, and health education and coaching. As trained individuals with limited or no formal medical education, they are widely considered to have the potential to enhance primary care access and quality, but remain underutilized. An analysis of existing research finds that community health worker functions include care coordination, health coaching, social support, health assessment, resource linking, case management, medication management, remote care, follow-up, administration, targeted health education, and health literacy support. A cost-effective workforce that includes primary care community health workers could help overburdened care teams. The authors suggest that decisions about how to best utilize community health workers be based on needs of patients and care teams, clinical workflow, and financial viability.
Roles and Functions of Community Health Workers in Primary Care
Andrea L. Hartzler, PhD, et al
University of Washington, Seattle