An exciting trend in complex care is how its workforce has evolved to better address patient needs. Today, organizations increasingly recognize the value of employing individuals who share experiences with the patients they serve, and who can provide a more personal approach to engagement and care coordination. Those experiencing substance use disorder, homelessness, and/or mental illness, for example, may feel stigmatized and alone, and often face numerous obstacles to accessing health care. However, with support from an individual who has “been there,” many patients can receive more consistent, coordinated care, and achieve improved health outcomes.
The New Faces of the Complex Care Workforce series, developed by the Center for Health Care Strategies, features individuals working at complex care programs across the nation. These profiles explore the role of these “non-traditional health workers,” the types of patient populations they have successfully engaged, and the challenges of sustaining these types of programs. Their titles vary — community health worker, care navigator, community paramedic, peer specialist — but the core benefit they provide to patients is the same: a knowledgeable care provider, often with lived experience, and an advocate for better health.