We’ve talked a lot about the importance of addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) in healthcare, and why it may be the most critical factor when it comes to lowering costs and improving outcomes… especially for vulnerable communities. For me, there is zero doubt that this is what needs to happen. However, we’ve seen very few programs that have been successful, sustainable, and scalable. That’s a big problem, and when this happens, you risk losing the attention of key decision-makers that we need to drive these new approaches forward.

If we know the interventions work, but we haven’t been able to find financial alignment within the system… then perhaps we’re doing it wrong.

Today we’re talking with someone who’s made it work. Jill Feldstein is Chief Operating Officer at the Penn Center for Community Health Workers at Penn Medicine.

They help healthcare organizations across the country start or improve Community Health Worker (CHW) programs using the Center’s evidence-based IMPaCT model.

And they’re returning $2 for every $1 spent.

I first heard about the Penn Center for Community Health Workers at the recent NCQA Quality Talks event. Executive Director, Shreya Kangovi, pitched the idea of using federal funds to hire Community Health Workers as part of our COVID-19 response. It would help patients get the care they need. It would keep us safer as we re-open the economy. AND it would create new jobs! It’s effective. It’s efficient. I love this idea.

So today we’re going to learn about Community Health Workers, how health systems and payers can use the Penn Centers IMPaCT model to drive a 2:1 ROI, and why right now, in the face of the COVID epidemic, may be the best time to do it.


After you listen, I encourage you to consider signing The Penn Center for Community Health Workers letters to CMS and Congress. The letters outline the benefits of community health workers and explain how they can make a huge difference as we battle our way out of the COVID-19 crisis.

Jill Feldstein

Jill Feldstein is Chief Operating Officer of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers at Penn Medicine. In her role as COO, she helps healthcare organizations across the country start or improve Community Health Worker (CHW) programs using the Center’s evidence-based IMPaCT model. She previously served as the Center’s inaugural director, where she quadrupled the program’s reach while generating a $2:1 return for Penn Medicine. Jill first learned about the effectiveness of community health workers as a Fulbright Scholar in Peru, where she evaluated CHW programs to reduce maternal mortality. Before joining the Center, Jill led policy efforts at the local, state and federal levels to increase access to affordable housing and education. She earned her Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University and her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Penn Center for Community Health Workers

The Penn Center for Community Health Workers is a national center of excellence focused on improving population health through effective community health worker programs. We developed IMPaCT, a standardized, scalable program that leverages community health workers –trusted laypeople from local communities– to improve health. IMPaCT has been tested in three randomized controlled trials and improves chronic disease control, mental health and quality of care while reducing total hospital days by 65%. IMPaCT has a $2:1 annual return on investment to payers and has been delivered to over 10,000 high-risk patients in the Philadelphia region. In the last three years, IMPaCT has become the most widely disseminated community health worker program in the United States; it is being replicated by organizations across 18 different states including Veterans Health Administration, state Medicaid programs; integrated healthcare organizations and even retailers such as Walmart.

Learn more at: https://chw.upenn.edu/

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