BACKGROUND: Community health workers (CHWs) have been identified as effective members of health care teams in improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities, especially among racial and ethnic minorities. There is a growing interest in integrating CHWs into clinical settings using health informatics-based strategies to help provide coordinated patient care and foster health-promoting behaviors.
OBJECTIVE: In this scoping review, we outline health informatics-based strategies for CHW-provider communication that aim to improve integration of CHWs into clinical settings.
DESIGN: A scoping review was conducted.
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: US-based sources between 2013 and 2018 were eligible.
STUDY SELECTION: Literature was identified through PubMed and Google queries and hand searching key reference lists. Articles were screened by title, abstract, and then full-text.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Health informatics-based strategies for CHW-provider communication and their impacts on patient care were documented and analyzed.
RESULTS: Thirty-one articles discussed health informatics-based strategies for CHW-provider communication and/or integration of CHWs into clinical settings. These strategies include direct CHW documentation of patient encounters in electronic health records (EHRs) and other Web-based applications. The technologies were used to document patient encounters and patient barriers to health care providers but were additionally used for secure messaging and referral systems. These strategies were found to meet the needs of providers and CHWs while facilitating CHW-provider communication, CHW integration, and coordinated care.
CONCLUSIONS: Health informatics-based strategies for CHW-provider communication are important for facilitating CHW integration and potentially improving patient outcomes and improving disparities among minority populations. This integration can support the development of future disease prevention programs and health care policies in which CHWs are an established part of the public health workforce. However, further investigation must be done on overcoming implementation challenges (eg, lack of time or funding), especially in smaller resource-challenged community-based clinics that serve minority patients.
The role of health informatics in facilitating communication strategies for community health workers in clinical settings: A scoping review
Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 27 (3), E107-E118. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001092. PMCID: PMC7994181.