Brazil's Family Health Strategy

Brazil's Family Health Strategy

Brazil's federal Family Health Strategy program, which uses community health workers to provide basic primary care to families at home, refer complex problems to nurses and physicians, and collect data, has helped shift healthcare provision from high-cost hospital procedures to low-cost, effective preventive care, a case study from the Commonwealth Fund finds. The report, Brazil's Family Health Strategy: Using Community Health Care Workers to Provide Primary Care (16 pages, PDF), found that since its implementation in 1994, the program has grown to cover two-thirds of the population and has contributed to more accurate mortality statistics, improvements in breastfeeding rates, a near-100 percent immunization uptake, and reductions in avoidable hospitalizations for certain chronic diseases and other primary care-sensitive conditions. At the same time, the study found that maintaining an adequate supply of primary care doctors and integrating electronic medical records and coordination with secondary care providers continue to be challenges. According to the report, obstacles to its adoption in the United States include identifying a reimbursement model that ensures sustainable funding and the challneges associated with integrating community health workers into the existing healthcare workforce.