Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Author: Jim Lloyd and Caitlin Thomas-Henkel, Center for Health Care Strategies

May 2017 | Technical Assistance Brief


Complex care programs across the country are increasingly using community health workers (CHWs) to cultivate strong relationships with patients and deliver culturally competent education, care coordination, and system navigation assistance among other supports. CHWs complement traditional medical care delivery by addressing patients’ basic needs while allowing other providers to operate at the top of their licenses.

This technical assistance brief examines effective strategies for including CHWs in complex care teams drawing from the experiences of organizations participating in the Center for Health Care Strategies’ (CHCS) Transforming Complex Care initiative and national experts in CHCS’ Complex Care Innovation Lab. In order to maximize the impact of CHWs, organizations should: (1) thoughtfully approach the hiring process; (2) provide training and clear tracks for career progression; (3) promote full integration within the care team; and (4) build in meaningful supports to prevent burnout, fatigue, and turnover.