Community Health Workers (CHWs) as Innovators: Insights from a Tele-Education Pilot for CHWs in Detroit, Michigan

Community Health Workers (CHWs) as Innovators: Insights from a Tele-Education Pilot for CHWs in Detroit, Michigan

Tyler Prentiss (Henry Ford Health System, Global Health Initiative, Detroit, MI, USA), John Zervos (Henry Ford Health System, Global Health Initiative, Detroit, MI, USA), Mohan Tanniru (School of Business Administration, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, USA) and Joseph Tan (Professor of eHealth Informatics and eBusiness Innovation, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHISI.2018010102

Abstract

Community health workers (CHWs) have a longstanding role in improving the health and well-being of underserved populations in resource-limited settings. CHWs are trusted in the communities they serve and are often able to see through solutions on community challenges that outside persons cannot. Notwithstanding, such solutions often must be low-cost, easily implementable, and permit knowledge gaps among CHWs to be filled via appropriate training. In this sense, use of cost-effective information technology (IT) solutions can be key to increasing access to knowledge for these community agents. This paper highlights insights gleaned from a pilot study performed in Detroit, Michigan with a group of CHWs in basic grant-writing training via an e-platform, the Community Health Innovator Program (CHIP). The results are discussed within the context of learning theory. It is concluded that e-platforms are necessary for CHWs to leverage knowledge from multiple sources in an adaptive environment towards addressing ever-evolving global health challenges.
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2. Background

Given the need to empower CHWs, the authors and other stakeholders formed a multidisciplinary group (heretofore known as the “CHIP team”) comprising experts in public health, ITs, community health, social sciences, business management, and governmental affairs. The CHIP team reviewed the extant literature and conducted focus groups along with other types of communications with CHWs and other stakeholders.

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