Improving Access to Care Through Smart Workforce Strategies

In a podcast interview, CHCF President and CEO Sandra R. Hernández focuses on using the health care workforce strategically

Photo: Jessica Brandi Lifland

What is the value of having health insurance if you can’t access care? That is an increasingly pertinent question for states that have successfully expanded insurance eligibility in recent years but are struggling to meet the increasing demand for health care.

In her role as president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation, Sandra R. Hernández, MD, is a key player in developing solutions to this problem. In a recent appearance on the Futuro Health podcast WorkforceRx, she talked about the importance of using the current workforce strategically.

“We’re very focused on looking at the primary care model and the composition of the primary care team so we can use every drop of workforce that we have to its fullest capabilities,” she said. That means reserving physician time for complex cases while expanding the scope of practice for nurses and mid-level providers, among other things.

Another strategy is beefing up the ranks of community health workers drawn from underserved communities. As Hernández said, community health workers have proven to be valuable public health advocates due to the trusting relationships they can build. “They can share information that is scientifically based, and at the same time they are able to encourage people to get enrolled in the programs that they’re eligible for and get them into earlier care,” she said.

The podcast features Hernández’s veteran perspective on vexing issues facing many areas of the US — including how to care for growing numbers of immigrants and the unsheltered — and a dose of optimism rooted in lessons learned from the pandemic.

Listen to the WorkforceRx podcast interview with Sandra Hernández.

Jessica Brandi Lifland

Jessica Brandi Lifland is a freelance photographer, instructor of journalism at City College of San Francisco, and mother. Her work with publications and nonprofits such as Operation Smile, Tostan, and the California Health Care Foundation has taken her all over the world, including West Africa, the Middle East, Kosovo, Burma, Haiti, and South America. Read More

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