Outreach Workers are essential in improving access to care and quality of care, particularly in:
- Overcoming barriers to care such as language, transportation and cultural barriers
- Facilitating care coordination between primary and specialty providers
- Providing case management to improve clinical outcomes
- Increasing patient understanding of their chronic disease and related treatment plan to improve chronic disease outcomes
Tips to integrate outreach workers into your healthcare team:
- Include outreach workers in clinic-wide meetings (including clinical quality improvement meetings).
- Include a scheduled report on the work of outreach services into regular clinic meetings with nurses and providers present. This report can include numbers served, services provided, touching stories, etc., and will serve to increase awareness regarding the functions and value of the outreach workers.
- Include outreach worker services on the clinic website.
- Share an annual report on outreach services to the board of directors.
- Encourage nurse managers and providers to accompany outreach workers into the field so they better understand opportunities for collaboration.
- Outreach workers’ offices should be near the clinical space for ease of communication when outreach staff are on site.
- Provide outreach workers full access to the clinic’s EMR, including the ability to send messages to providers, read clinic notes and schedule patient appointments.
- Include the health assessment used by the outreach workers in the electronic health record so that it is included in the clinical encounter.
- Incorporate outreach workers into processes to help meet clinical performance measures (for example distributing and collecting colorectal cancer screening kits, contacting patients who are identified as needing follow up for HA1C, vaccines, and so on.)
- Incorporate outreach workers in strategies to respond to patient needs identified in social determinants of health screens.