The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has officially launched the community health worker voluntary certification portal, where community health workers in the state will be able to apply to become a certified professional through the ADHS Community Health Workers Program once they meet certain standards and successfully complete an approved training program.
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The online portal, called the Community Health Worker Licensing Management System (LMS), includes the voluntary certification application itself, as well as portal training, license verification, supportive resources and other guidance for using the new system.
ADHS says it is implementing the online LMS “… to align with a larger state strategy to increase transparency to our application process and to deliver accessible public health information that fits a 21st century lifestyle.”
The department says the benefits of using an online LMS include increased visibility for providers/licensees, increased visibility for ADHS staff, and real-time, online access to information for staff and licensees resulting in a decrease in phone calls and emails regarding application processing.
The activation of this online portal comes after ADHS published the final rules for the voluntary certification of community health workers a few weeks ago.
Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association, highlighted the benefits of the certification of community health workers in a recent blog post.
“It took several years to build the statutory and administrative pathway to facilitate certification of community health workers—and we’re finally there,” he said. “Certification of Community Health Workers contributes to further professionalization and sustainability of the workforce and can help facilitate reimbursement of services they deliver.”
According to a report published by the Northern Arizona University Center for Health Equity Research, community health workers can improve access to healthcare and promote medication adherence, the management of chronic diseases and behavioral health, and the appropriate use of emergency services.
The report also emphasized that contracted health plan leaders from Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Complete Care plans readily understand and value the impact of community health workers on their beneficiaries.
“[Community health workers] are considered to add value to members by conducting effective and culturally salient health plan member outreach,” the report states.
“For many health plan leaders, such culturally informed outreach and education activities conducted in the home, over the phone and in the clinic have resulted in both anecdotal and empirical evidence of improved access to health care, use of prevention screenings, and appropriate use of the health care system, including avoidance of emergency room and hospitalization among members.
[Community health workers] were considered essential to increasing access to primary care, self-management activities and behavioral health support for highly vulnerable health plan members.”
According to Humble, a federal grant is allowing ADHS to keep the certification fee down to $1, but the fee will likely increase when the grant funding ends.