UMass Medical School to share financing blueprint for community health worker services at APHA annual meeting

November 03, 2017

A UMass Medical School health policy expert will lay out a strategy for creating sustainable financing models for community health worker (CHW) services at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting Nov. 4-8 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Katherine London, MS, principal of the Center for Health Law and Economics, recently unveiled a study that shows community health workers more than pay for themselves, with a big reduction in expensive emergency room visits and costly treatments by teaming up with patients with chronic conditions to get them the routine medical care they need.

However, agencies across the country have struggled to pay for community health workers, often having to let staff go when grant money runs out.

At the APHA’s Annual Meeting & Expo Nov. 6, London will lead an in-depth “how-to” session to make a compelling case for stable, long-term funding to hire and retain community health workers.

London, who has over 20 years overseeing complex health care projects for government agencies, will outline a six step process for hammering out a budget to hire community health workers. She has researched the impact of CHWs for New England states and also designed a financing model for Maine.

In the scenario London will use in the session, the community health workers’ mission will be to seek out people who are going untreated for a particular chronic condition and hook them up with the medical care they need.

The steps for building a successful budget range from estimating the unmet health needs of a group of people suffering from a particular disease or chronic condition and picking an empirically-based intervention model to calculating the expected return on investment from fewer emergency room trips, hospitalizations and missed work.

The New Haven Register recently detailed the findings of the report on community health workers by London and her colleagues at the Center for Health Law and Economics.

The report found that Connecticut could save $2.40 in medical costs for every $1 spent in some cases by hiring community health workers to get people without doctors the right care.

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