Successful Community Health Worker Model Now Opens Program to Out-Patients

News Brief by Nicole Loranger

 

            In an effort to increase healthcare access in lower-income communities, the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine has adopted a model called IMPaCT, or Individualized Management for Patient-Centered Targets, and reshaped it to now include outpatients. The program, which began with a focus on inpatients, involves Community Health Workers visiting with patients facing multiple chronic conditions, aiding them in navigating the healthcare system, and providing social support in handling issues such as hunger, homelessness, and transportation. The program has been a “great success” over the past few years, according to Shreya Kangovi, MD and Assistant Professor at Perelman, and has seen “several positive results, including reduced readmission rates and better health outcomes,” (UPenn Medical School). Due to this success, Penn can now extend beyond the 5,000+ inpatients they routinely care for at the moment and include outpatient services.

     Before expanding the program, some more information was required. Shreya Kangovi and David Grande, MDs and Assistant Professors of Medicine at Penn, lead a team of colleagues in conducting interviews with 21 chronically ill, uninsured, and Medicaid outpatients regarding any concerns they had about the program and how the providers could alleviate them. Three categories in particular were frequently mentioned by the interviewees: being overwhelmed by multiple conditions and only wanting to focus on one at a time, needing additional support navigating the clinic, and wanting additional motivational support when making lifestyle changes for the sake of their health. Using these three themes, the team of Penn providers and researchers has been able to alter the program to fit the outpatients’ needs more acutely and therefore reach an even broader group of people in need of medical aid.

 

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Study adapts proven community health worker model for outpatient setting: Structured program adaptation can allow for rapid scale-up of evidence-based CHW interventions across new settings, populations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160324133414.htm>.