NH Nonprofit Heralds New Research Documenting Community Healthcare Workers

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Impacts: More Cancer Screenings, Lower Healthcare Costs

Littleton, NH, April 03, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — North Country Health Consortium, the New Hampshire nonprofit tasked by state officials to increase awareness and access to Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs), is heralding a spate of new research documenting CHW effectiveness, including lower health care costs and double-digit increases in screenings for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers.

“Community health workers can move fluidly between the community and the healthcare settings, bridging gaps in care, providing culturally appropriate education and services, and connecting families to the clinical and social resources they desperately need,” summarized the  American Journal of Public Health about its findings.

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The Journal report focused on nationwide studies on the effects of CHWs on hospitalization rates and visits to the emergency department (ED). One example: in New York’s childhood asthma program, CHWs worked over a 12-month period of care coordination, reducing asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalization rates by more than 50%. (Sourcelink: American Journal of Public Health).

In another study in Baltimore, Black patients on Medicaid with diabetes participating in a CHW intervention had a 40% decrease in emergency department visits, 33% decrease in emergency department admissions, a 33% decrease in total hospital admissions, and an impressive 27% decrease in Medicaid reimbursements. 

Increased cancer screenings

In yet another major study by the  American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that CHWs helped increase cancer screenings significantly. That review included 76 independent studies showing that community health worker involvement increased screening for breast cancer by 11.5%, cervical cancer by 12.8%, and colorectal cancer by 10.5%. 

In addition to those cancer screenings, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) – under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is recommending additional interventions engaging CHWs to “improve cardiovascular disease management, improve diabetes prevention, and improve diabetes management.”

The CPSTF findings suggest that interventions engaging CHWs are effective in preventing and managing multiple chronic conditions. In addition to the health benefits, a systematic review of the economic evidence found that interventions engaging CHWs to increase cervical and colorectal cancer screening use are cost-effective and that interventions to increase colonoscopy use are associated with net healthcare cost savings.

Lower healthcare costs

As states advance efforts to expand financing for and use of CHWs, more evidence has emerged about their effectiveness in reducing healthcare costs. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and National Association of Community Health Workers jointly published a study sharing evidence of the benefit of CHWs in lowering healthcare costs. 

Highlights of the joint study included:

  • In Nevada, a Health Plan hired three CHWs to work with an average of 37 patients each for just 30-60 days, resulting in average medical costs decreasing from $1,223 pre-intervention to $983 post-intervention.
  • In Maryland, a CHW outreach program supporting healthcare utilization resulted in patients experiencing a savings of $2,245 per year with a total savings of $262,080 across 117 patients per year.
  • In New Mexico, 448 Medicaid managed care clients received support from CHWs for 6 months. This  resulted in a savings of $2,044,465 in total costs across categories of services when comparing post CHW-intervention to pre-intervention.
  • In East Texas, the overall return on investment (ROI) from employment of CHWs in 2 hospitals working with ED patients ranged from 3:1 to over 15:1.

About the CHWs-NH initiative: North Country Health Consortium (NCHC), a non-profit public health organization funded by the state of New Hampshire, to work with partners to implement a statewide CHWs-NH initiative to provide CHW training, build a sustainable CHW workforce, and engage with stakeholders to develop CHW certification and support statewide data collection. For more information about the CHW initiative, go to https://chws-nh.org.

Funding for the CHW initiative is financed under a contract with the State of New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services with funds supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award by CDC/HHS “NH Initiative to address COVID-19 Health Disparities grant #NH750T000031”. The content of this release does not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.”

CONTACT: Michelle Morel, President Confocal Communications [email protected] | (207) 329-6767 

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