Supporting the Integration of Community Health Workers in Whole Person Care Pilots
Community health workers (CHWs) are vital contributors to high quality and equitable health services, particularly to vulnerable populations. CHWs provide a key link between community resources and the clinical team as well as advocate on behalf of communities regarding social determinants of health. Our previous work found that state care redesign efforts will create an opportunity to employ CHWs to better coordinate services and community supports. Whole Person Care (WPC) in California is one of these initiatives.
WPC provides counties, cities, and/or health/hospital authorities with an opportunity to coordinate clinical care, behavioral health, and social services for the most vulnerable and high-utilizers of Medi-Cal. Many WPC-participating entities plan to or are already employing CHWs to achieve their aim of care coordination. However, WPC pilots across the state have nuanced programmatic goals; consequently, strategies for CHW employment and CHW placement vary from region to region. For this project, funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, we provided technical assistance and support to WPC participants that requested assistance with their own CHW programs, including Monterey County, the City of Sacramento, and Santa Clara County. Because needs varied, the type of assistance that we provided varied. This report describes those counties' efforts to employ CHWs and outlines the potential for CHWs to improve care for high-utilizing populations by integrating clinical, social and behavioral health care services.