Arkansas is making good progress toward achieving an improved health care system that meets the needs of our citizens. Current state initiatives include: transition to a multi-payer, value-based payment system that incentivizes improved quality of care and improved cost efficiency; increased access to affordable health care coverage; strategically planning for a sufficient health care workforce; and accelerated use of health information technology. These initiatives are crucial for addressing the health of Arkansans and realigning our fragmented health care system. There remains an opportunity, however, to strengthen the connection between the health care system and community-based services by investing in an often overlooked and underutilized subset of the health workforce–community health workers (CHWs).
This issue brief discusses CHW roles and opportunities in Arkansas, evidence about clinical and cost effectiveness, the potential for CHW inclusion in ongoing state initiatives, and environmental factors that may affect workforce utility. Both academic literature and energy within the state offer potential for CHWs to address workforce constraints, care coordination, and curb health care costs.