Wennerstrom A, Bui T, Harden-Barrios J, Price-Haywood EG
There is evidence that patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) and community health workers (CHWs) improve chronic disease management. There are few models for integrating CHWs into PCMHs in order to enhance disease self-management support among diverse populations. In this article, we describe how a community-based nonprofit agency, a PCMH, and academic partners collaborated to develop and implement the Patient Resource and Education Program (PREP). We employed CHWs as PCMH care team members to provide health education and support to Vietnamese American patients with uncontrolled diabetes and/or hypertension. We began by conducting focus groups to assess patient knowledge, desire for support, and availability of community resources. Based on findings, we developed PREP with CHW guidance on cultural tailoring of educational materials and methods. CHWs received training in core competencies related to self-management support principles and conducted the 4-month intervention for PCMH patients. Throughout the program, we conducted process evaluation through structured team meetings and patient satisfaction surveys. We describe successes and challenges associated with PREP delivery including patient recruitment, structuring/documenting visits, and establishing effective care team integration, work flow, and communication. Strategies for mitigating these issues are presented, and we make recommendations for other PCMHs seeking to integrate CHWs into care teams.