A 12 month grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation will help support Project Access of New Haven’s patient navigator program, a model that provides staff to help patients address barriers to taking care of their health and that could be adopted by other health care organizations.
Project Access of New Haven connects uninsured patients to free health care, but the nonprofit organization also helps with more than immediate medical needs. Each patient has a “patient navigator,” who can help to address barriers to taking care of their health. The navigators’ activities range from arranging translation for patients at doctor visits and helping them understand follow-up care recommendations to ensuring that patients have stable housing and enough food to eat.
The patient navigator model has been successful in New Haven and has the potential to be used by other organizations to improve care for underserved populations. The $50,000 grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation will allow Project Access to conduct an evaluation of the patient navigator model, which will identify best practices in patient navigation and help to promote the use of these best practices in other health care organizations and communities.
“While there have been significant strides in expanding access to health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, there are still many people who lack insurance,” said Tiffany Donelson, vice president of program for the Connecticut Health Foundation. “The state is fortunate to have an organization like Project Access of New Haven.”
The evaluation will examine key elements of Project Access of New Haven’s model, as well as the impact of its services on participants, the local health care system, and the community. The evaluation will also look at the cost-effectiveness of the model.
Having someone to help patients navigate the health care system and address things that prevent them from being as healthy as possible could benefit patients with coverage as well, and the findings from the evaluation could help other organizations considering similar models.
“Patient navigator and similar community health worker interventions have great potential to improve the accessibility and care of underserved populations, and rigorous evaluation can help to strengthen our work and help others adopt these models,” said Darcey Cobbs-Lomax, executive director of Project Access of New Haven. “This will allow us to better meet the needs of our most vulnerable Greater New Haven residents, which will reduce health disparities and increase health equity in our community.”