Creating an estimator tool for community health worker-led interventions

November 14, 2018
Jeremy Tourish
Jeremy Tourish, MPH
Policy Analyst, Health Law & Policy
Enid Vélez
Enid Vélez, MPH
Senior Health Care Data Analyst, Health Law & Policy

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trusted members of their communities who help bridge the gap between the medical profession and patients. They have a unique understanding of the language, culture, and needs of the communities they serve. Research demonstrates that CHWs can improve population health and quality of care, contain costs, and promote health equity and community engagement. 

The total economic burden of diagnosed asthma and diabetes ($81.9 billion and $327 billion in 2017, respectively) put a significant strain on the U.S. economy each year.  Studies in Washington State and Texas showcase how targeted CHW-led interventions can both improve outcomes for participants and reduce costs.  With support from Families USA we worked with our colleague Katharine London  to develop two estimator tools to estimate CHWs’ effects on cost and quality after implementing a CHW-led childhood asthma or adult diabetes mitigation intervention.

Payers, providers, and program directors can use these tools to predict the impact of an intervention and the resources needed to implement it.  Users can estimate:

  • The number of CHWs needed to reach the target population;
  • The cost of each intervention over a three-year period;
  • The impact on healthcare utilization and direct medical cost savings, per participant; and
  • The return on investment from implementing each intervention.

In October, the estimator tool creation team presented the estimator tools to a diverse group of stakeholders interested in learning how to use them and how to incorporate the findings derived from each tool in their work.  The estimator tools and supplementary webinar are available at Families USA’s Community Health Worker Sustainability Collaborative.

These tools were created with funding from The Kresge Foundation and Families USA based on a model originally developed with funding from the Connecticut Health Foundation. The caseload calculator tool is based on one developed on behalf of the Hispanic Health Council's CHIRP II Project, funded by the Connecticut Health Foundation.