Background: Low-socioeconomic, urban, minority patients with heart failure (HF) often have unique barriers to care. Community health workers (CHWs) are specially trained laypeople who serve as liaisons between underserved communities and the health system. It is not known whether CHWs improve outcomes in low-socioeconomic, urban, minority patients with HF.
Hypothesis: CHWs reduce rehospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and healthcare costs for low-socioeconomic urban patients with HF.
Methods: Patients admitted with acute decompensated HF were assigned to receive weekly visits by CHW after discharge. Patients were propensity score matched with controls who received usual care. HF-related rehospitalizations, ED visits, and inpatient costs were compared for 12 months following index admission versus the same period before.
Results: Twenty-eight patients who received weekly visits from a CHW for 12 months after discharge were matched with 28 control patients who did not receive CHWs. Patients who received a CHW had a 75% decrease in HF-related ED visits (0.71 vs. 0.18 visits per patient, P < 0.001), an 89% decrease in HF-related readmissions (0.64 vs. 0.07 admissions per patient, P < 0.005), and a significant decrease in inpatient cost for HF-related visits. In controls receiving usual care, there was no significant change in hospitalizations, ED visits, or costs.
Conclusions: In conclusion, CHWs are associated with reduced rehospitalizations, ED visits, and inpatient costs in low-socioeconomic, urban, minority patients with HF. CHWs may be a cost-effective method to reduce health care utilization and improve outcomes for this population.