Headlines & Features
Peer approach outlined in Affordable Care Act can improve quality of care and reduce costs
LEAWOOD, Kan. and WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Just as seven million Americans obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Peers for Progress and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today released a report that examines how peer support programs improve health outcomes by boosting outreach and education for disease prevention and management. The report, “Peer Support in Health – Evidence to Action,” is a guide for health care organizations developing peer support programs that will help people with health problems live healthier lives. Peer support programs are located throughout the U.S. and are included in the ACA as a way to improve health care quality and reduce costs.
The report summarizes findings from the first annual conference of the National Peer Support Collaborative Learning Network. The conference, under the leadership of Peers for Progress, a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, and NCLR, convened leaders in health care and peer support to discuss current strengths and future needs in the field.
“We are proud of this report and our work with NCLR to advance an important model of care that makes a difference in the lives of patients,” said Edwin Fisher, Ph.D., Global Director for Peers for Progress. “As state and local communities implement the ACA’s provisions and face a marked increase in the number of patients, peer support programs will be fundamental to success. We must ensure that peer support programs are reimbursed and available to all.”
Peer support programs hold great promise to help people lead healthier, more satisfying lives and achieve the goals of health reform. As the report documents, these programs have quantifiable success in improving the quality of care, lowering costs and reducing health disparities. They help individuals prevent and improve the management of disease through engagement and particularly benefit populations, such as low income groups, that other programs fail to reach. Included in the report is a review of 14 programs for adults with diabetes that demonstrated an average reduction in a key measure of blood sugar control, HbA1c, of 0.86 points, a marked improvement over the 0.50 point reduction that is considered clinically significant.
“Peer support programs are critical to improved health. The promotores de salud model, which prepares lay health educators for community outreach, has proven effective in helping Latinos get access to health care and make lifestyle changes to curb the rising rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity,” said A. Manuela McDonough, MPH, CPH, Associate Director of NCLR’s Institute for Hispanic Health (IHH). “We expect that our health care system will increasingly rely on peer supporters, like the promotores, to fully engage with underserved communities and help improve health and overall well-being.”
The Latino community can particularly benefit from the health and wellness messages distributed through peer support programs. Nearly 80 percent of Hispanics are overweight and almost 40 percent are obese, risk factors that contribute to a high rate of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
As shown by Peers for Progress, effective peer support programs assist patients in daily self-care, link patients to appropriate clinical and community resources and provide ongoing social and emotional support. The inaugural report provides insights across multiple programs with approaches for scaling up and maintaining comprehensive, versatile peer support programs for populations. The report is available at http://bit.ly/1fMOkpz.
About Peers for Progress
A program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, Peers for Progress is dedicated to promoting peer support in health, health care and prevention around the world. Through research, collaborative sharing of program and quality improvement resources, and supporting advocacy, it seeks to help the thousands of peer support programs around the world learn from each other, improve the services they offer, gain greater recognition of their work, and achieve integration of peer support as a normal, widely available component of high-quality health care. For more information on Peers for Progress, visit www.peersforprogress.org, or follow us on Twitter.
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
How can peer supporters and family physicians work together to improve the health of patients with chronic conditions? In this article from the American Academy of Family Physicians, Michael Laff reports on the complementary role of peer supporters in physician practices.
Peer support networks can fill in a communication or access gap that sometimes occurs between patients and their family physicians or other health care professionals.
Peer support staff members can include volunteers, community health workers or coaches who are focused on detection, prevention and the behavioral aspects of chronic disease management rather than on treatment.
Studies have found that patients are more likely to speak openly about health concerns with a peer.
Calling all Community Health Workers!
2014 National Community Health Worker Survey
This survey is for Community Health Workers or CHWs, who are known by many titles such as:
- Promotora/es de Salud
- Community Health Representatives
- Community Health Advisors
- Patient Navigators
- And many more.
For this survey, we use the term CHW. We want to learn from CHWs like you, about the types of work you do and how you advocate for a cause or change to improve the health or wellbeing of a group or community.
The survey should take about 15 minutes and is completely voluntary. You will not be asked for your name or any personal information. We will share what we learn from this study through Community Health Worker networks and an open database to help CHWS and their allies learn about and support the CHW workforce.
If you are a CHW, click here to take the survey!
If you are not a CHW, please encourage and support CHWs in your area to complete the on-line survey and make their voices heard.
If you have questions please email us at AzPRC@email.arizona.edu or call 520 626-5204.