Dr Sachin Jain Discusses Leveraging Community Health Workers

February 15, 2021

Sachin Jain, MD, MBA, FACP, discussed his recent paper that addressed the importance of increased utilization of community health care workers.

Sachin Jain, MD, MBA, FACP, is the president and CEO at SCAN Group and SCAN Health Plan.


You were recently a co-author on a Health Affairs paper with several former Obama era leaders as well as former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb. Among other items, the paper called for a corps of community health care workers. Can you discuss this idea?

Jain: Community health workers have long been recognized as a potential foundational piece of the health care system of the future. Of course, it's not a new idea and community health workers have existed for as long as we've had communities. But one of the things that we've done in American health care is we've made health care excessively to the domain of doctors and nurses, when, in fact, a lot of the work that needs to be done to better serve communities, is actually to engage people where they live.
Most people spend very little time in health care settings. If you add up the total number of minutes people spend in medical office visits, as well as hospital visits. It's a fraction of a year, maybe a couple of days at most. Most of their lives are spent in the community. So, this idea of having lay people who are integrated into the community, who can support people in living healthy lifestyles and better managing their chronic diseases, I think is a low cost alternative that over time could reduce overall health care utilization and overall health care spend. There's a number of terrific advocates who've studied community health care workers over the over the last number of decades and there's a growing evidence of body that when trained appropriately, they work. We have an opportunity and an obligation to start to scale some of these ideas that we know work to serve more patients and serve more populations. I think that was the reason that we included that recommendation in that Health Affairs paper.