For 25 years, under the leadership of its Editor Norbert Goldfield, The Journal of Ambulatory Care Management (JACM) addressed policy and health systems challenges centered around 4 key questions, including “How can we motivate health care professionals to improve the relationship between individuals, family, and community?” and “What incentives can we build into the health system that maximize health outcomes for all but especially for those suffering from socioeconomic disparities?” To address these and other questions over the years in JACM, Norbert often focused on the roles of community health centers (CHCs) and community health workers (CHWs). We encourage everyone to read more about Norbert's JACM journey in the April/June 2023 issue “Letter From the Editor.” As announced in the April/June 2023 issue, the baton was passed on this year to a new leadership team comprising Co-Editors E. Lee Rosenthal and Megan B. Cole and Deputy Editor Durrell J. Fox. We are so pleased to introduce ourselves and our first issue as JACM editors.
Co-Editor Megan B. Cole, PhD, MPH, is a health services researcher and associate professor of Health Law, Policy, and Management at Boston University School of Public Health and co-director of the BU Medicaid Policy Lab. She is a national expert on how Medicaid policy and innovative care delivery models impact quality, access, and equity of care for safety-net populations, especially for patients served by CHCs. She is the principal investigator on many national- and state-level research studies that span these topics.
Co-Editor E. Lee Rosenthal, PhD, MPH, is a public health educator, researcher, and advocate who serves on the faculty at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso's Foster School of Medicine and Hunt School of Dental Medicine. She in nationally known for her work in supporting the development of the CHW field through participatory research including directing the National Community Health Advisor Study (1994-1998) and current leadership of the national Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project (2014-present).
Deputy Editor Durrell J. Fox is a CHW consultant at JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. He is a nationally recognized CHW leader who has served as a founder for statewide, regional, and national CHW networks/associations including the National Association of Community Health Workers. His areas of expertise include CHW workforce development, CHW workforce sustainability, CHW scope of practice, CHW role in responding to pandemics, and CHW role in youth violence prevention.
Together, we are thrilled to carry forward the JACM mission in this next era of the journal.
As the new journal editors, we are particularly interested in elevating research and practice by and about CHWs, CHCs, and other health services research that is focused on safety-net or underserved populations. CHWs are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a link between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. CHCs serve as the fabric of the US primary care safety-net system, providing essential, culturally competent health services to more than 30 million patients annually without regard for ability to pay. The majority of patients served by CHCs are uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid, from a racial or ethnic minoritized group, and have incomes below the federal poverty level.
Both CHWs and CHCs play central roles in advancing health and equity in health within our health system, which is often otherwise inaccessible to and inequitable for so many. By creating dedicated space for CHW- and CHC-focused scholarship, we hope to contribute to the increasing need for evidence as health care leadership and policy makers consider how to grow and support CHW and CHC models of care.
While the Journal especially encourages article submissions that focus on CHWs, CHCs, and health services research within the safety net, we also look forward to publishing on other topics historically covered by the journal. These topics include health reform, care delivery models and transformation, primary care innovations, Medicaid and Medicare policy, innovative linkages between ambulatory care and the community, addressing social determinants of health, telehealth and health information technology in ambulatory care, changes in outpatient care during the COVID-19 era, and improving access to, quality of, and equity of care. We particularly seek contributions from diverse and underrepresented authors.
The articles selected for this issue reflect this continued and revitalized JACM vision. Articles discuss the roles of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), CHWs, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and other ambulatory care settings largely in the context of workforce and COVID-19 pandemic response.
Choi et al find that having an FQHC medical training program is associated with higher levels of quality of care performance measures at FQHCs. Planas and Burger assess how an expanded registered nurse care coordinator role within an FQHC may shape outcomes for patients with diabetes or hypertension. Rodriguez et al discuss how to support CHWs during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Roth et al describe participant perspectives on CHWs in the context of the Pathways program, which is a community hub model that aims to identify and address medical, social, and behavioral risk factors among persons with increased risk of poor health or social outcomes. Reddy et al examine how clinic-level patient-centered medical home (PCMH) implementation factors predict primary care provider turnover within the VHA, while Burnett et al describe early implementation of a regional telemedicine service within the VHA. Bernhardt and Benoit assess the role, preparedness, and management among hospital ambulatory staff who were deployed to serve new respiratory illness clinics during COVID-19. Finally, Tarpey explores the utility of using electronic medical record (EMR) audit data to assess the operational impact of ambulatory strategies, such as scheduled patient appointment lengths.
We thank Norbert Goldfield for giving us the opportunity to lead the Journal. We will do our best to honor his tradition of making the JACM a place for research and reflection on how to move the health system forward in collaboration with community members and institutions.
—Megan B. Cole Brahim, PhD, MPH
—E. Lee Rosenthal, PhD, MS, MPH
—Durrell J. Fox, BS, CHW