URAC Launches Community Health Worker Accreditation Program

The URAC accreditation organization has created a program to help organizations implement and maintain community health worker programs that improve patient outcomes and reduce health care costs.

Community health workers are playing an increasingly important role in addressing the social determinants of health. They invest time gaining a solid understanding of the patient journey, making home visits and providing ongoing support to build trust and rapport with people.
CHW employment is expected to grow 14% by 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is significantly higher than average growth across all fields. But hiring community health workers remains a relatively new task for most health systems, and hospitals are looking for how best to deploy them. For example, the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI), the community research arm of safety-net Sinai Chicago Hospital, is evaluating the impact of its Community Health Worker Support Program to mitigate adverse social determinants of health and address inequalities.

By providing tools and validation for CHW programs working to improve outcomes, promote health equity and reduce costs, URAC said its new accreditation strengthens the organizations’ ability to meet diverse community needs.

The accreditation evaluates organizations rather than individuals and includes standards in 10 areas, including customer and employee diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); workforce development; learning and development; scope of practice and peer support and quality management. URAC added that the accreditation aligns with recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) workforce initiatives to build accessible pathways to healthcare careers without requiring advanced degrees.

“This accreditation reflects our commitment to supporting community health workers and the organizations they serve,” Shawn Griffin, MD, president and CEO of URAC, said in a statement. “By incorporating DEI and social determinants of health at the center of our standards, we ensure that community health worker programs can better meet the needs of both caregivers and patients.”

A multi-stakeholder advisory committee informed this accreditation, with representatives from federally qualified health centers, community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and payers. Committee members collaborated to develop robust and relevant standards that reflect the diverse challenges facing CHW programs across the country.

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