The United States, in fact the world, is making a huge bet on, broadly defined, community health workers. Every new effort to stabilize costs is predicated on improving patient confidence and engagement via enhanced coordinated care. Coordinated care could not possibly exist without community health workers. Yet, I see time and time again, health care systems are simply attaching new labels on to, for example, medical assistants. Monday they are medical assistants and Tuesday, often at a much higher salary, they have become case managers (aka community health workers). What are community health workers? As readers of the Journal know, the evolving role of community health workers worldwide is a unique focus of the Journal. We focus on community health workers because the very success of our efforts to improve health care worldwide is dependent on the many determinants of success for this critical group of health care workers. Over the next 2 issues, Lee Rosenthal and Noelle Wiggins will expertly guide us, using a variety of formats, through the critical new issues confronting the lynchpin for success of our evolving health systems worldwide—community health workers.
—Norbert I. Goldfield, MD
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