Over the decades that MHP Salud has championed the Community Health Worker (CHW) model, the model has retained its core elements of community-centered care and empowerment, but recent years’ rapid technological change has given CHWs new tools they can use to broaden and deepen their impact on their community.
In 2015, MHP Salud focused on ensuring that CHWs from each program carry state-of-the-art mobile technology, equipped with data management and communication apps that allow them to spend more time in the community and less time filing paperwork or meeting in the office. Highlights of this effort were securing an award to establish a mobile, bilingual health messaging program, the presentation of internal findings using a mobile app for case management and follow-up in two internal CHW programs at the American Public Health Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting and Exposition and a presentation on the benefits of equipping CHWs with technology at the 2015 Unity Conference in Memphis, TN.
ONC Pilot Challenge
In May, the organization was awarded a $50,000 prize from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to fund a partnership pilot program with CreateIT Healthcare Solutions, Inc. that enables CHWs to deliver health messages to underserved, Spanish-speaking Latino community members in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley via Spanish-language email, mobile phone text message and automated voice.
Though the pilot will run through January of 2016, it has already enrolled a total of 1,115 participants, surpassing the goals of 1,000 participants enrolled in the diabetes prevention campaign and 70 participant enrolled in the breastfeeding campaign. Each campaign consists of four months of weekly, targeted texts to participants related to their respective campaign.
2015 Unity Conference
In July, Chief Programming Officer Colleen Reinert, MPH, Chief Strategy and Analytics Officer Ashley Martin, MPH presented on mobilizing the CHW workforce through technology at the 2015 Unity Conference.
This presentation emphasized the necessity for CHWs to collect data and the ways in which technology can enhance program evaluation with unified forms, routine analysis of data, measurable outcomes and cleaner data both for the organization’s internal programs and at CHW programs in Health Centers.
2015 APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition
In November, MHP Salud staff presented findings related to the organization’s use of mobile technology in the hands of CHWs to improve case management, increase the rate of patient follow-ups and enable comparisons between outcome and demographic data.
The presentation focused on two programs in Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Navigator Program, in which CHW Navigators offer participants free assistance in learning about and enrolling in health insurance in the marketplace, and the Colonia Outreach Program, in which CHWs assist those seeking to enroll in social service benefits, such as SNAP or CHIP. Using unique identification numbers and a case management system, the organization shared its ability to track the same clients over time through a program, enabling follow up after applications for social service benefit and monitoring repeat visits to Navigators for health insurance enrollment assistance.
Of the 500 applications submitted through the Colonia Outreach Program, 80 percent of applicants received follow-up from a CHW thanks to the improved use of technology. This marks a 33 percent increase in follow-up compared to before the implementation of the app.
“Since I started my own career path in the CHW field, I’ve seen technology be incorporated into all aspects of data collection and evaluation,” said Reinert. “This has allowed for not only ease of work for the CHWs allowing them to spend more time in the field but more accurate results.”
Moving forward, MHP Salud will continue to promote the empowered duo of CHWs and technology. Learn more about this push and support our efforts here.