Heart Failure and Community Health Workers

Washington, DC has a high prevalence of heart failure and hospital readmission rates compared to other regions in the country. Lower access to care and higher likelihood of poor control of comorbidities such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes contribute to the disparity. To meet the challenge of management of heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension for inner city DC patients, Drs. Gurusher Panjrath and Richard Katz have developed two innovative programs incorporating community health workers (CHWs) into our health team to enhance patient care. With the assistance of Linda Bostrom, NP, Linda Witkin, RN, and the DC based Institute for Public Health Innovation, our GW staff has trained and deployed three full time CHWs. Our CHWs make home visits and telephone contacts assisting patients with both medical and social needs. In addition, the CHWs serve as “digital navigators” supporting patients with disease-specific cell phone “apps” that further support patient self-management of chronic disease. Dr. Katz is working with leadership of AmeriHealth DC, Washington DC’s largest Medicaid insurer to expand this program across the DC metropolitan area.