About the FHW Network

What are FHWs?

FHWs are any healthcare worker delivering care outside of a hospital or clinic setting. FHWs is a term inclusive of many other terms, such as community health workers, traditional birth attendants, and village health workers. These are typically non-professional workers or workers that are not doctors, nurses, or physician's assistants. 

What is Frontline Healthcare?

Frontline healthcare is care delivered outside of a hospital or clinic setting, such as at work, at home, or in a community setting. This makes care far more accessible and patient-centric, which increases access to the health system, makes referral more timely, and enhances the ability of the health system to have more patient contact. With more patient contact, services that require high-touch become possible, such as promotive care and chronic care management. 

Frontline care is happening in different ways in different parts of the world. It is happening with health information technology startups, in developing country health systems, and via public health efforts.

Why an FHW Network?

Though the field of frontline healthcare delivery (also called community health) offers an immense amount of potential health impact, it remains underutilized and in its infancy. 

This is mainly due to fragmentation and isolation of organizations, people, and knowledge. Many organizations and governments have implemented healthcare services delivered by frontline health workers, yet these have occurred mostly in isolation, with programs often reinventing the wheel. The evidence base for best practices has been underdeveloped, and the evidence and tools that do exist is rarely disseminated. This is especially true for training, management, and information systems. This fragmentation has resulted in slow growth of an extremely powerful healthcare delivery method. 

A strong community of practice is needed to both improve the rigor of FHW care and to ensure that it is rolled out to its fullest potential.

Why now?

These are exciting times. In developing countries, the reality of human resources gaps and the technologies of rapid diagnostics and information technology are making FHWs a resurgent focus. In developed countries, there the high-touch, convenient interactions necessary to provide promotive and chronic care management will require new models of care just as non-fee-for-service models like Accountable Care Organizations are beginning to be implemented. With FHWs, high-value, complete access healthcare is now more possible than ever in a variety of settings globally.

What is the scope of the FHW network?

Most FHWs will be non-professional healthcare workers (not doctors, nurses, or physician assistants) providing care outside of a hospital or clinic setting. There is, however imperfect overlap between care outside of the clinic setting and care provided by non-professionals (task-shifted care). While the FHW Network will focus predominantly on the intersection of these areas it may also to a lesser degree consider programs that solely consist of task-shifted care (even if in a hospital or clinic setting) or of care outside of hospital and clinic settings (even if provided by professionals). Task-shifting lessons are relevant even if occurring in other contexts, and frontline care by professionals, though perhaps sometimes less efficient, is still certainly frontline care. 

("community health aides"[mesh] OR "community health worker" OR "frontline health worker" OR "village health worker"  OR "lay health worker" OR "traditional birth attendant" OR "Community Health Assistant" OR "Medical Auxiliaries" OR "Auxiliary Health Worker" OR "Community Health Promoter" OR "home health aide" OR "lay health advisor" OR "community health aide" OR "community health volunteer" OR "doula" OR "Parteiras" OR "agentes polivalentes elementares" OR "promotores de salud" OR "barefoot doctor" OR "health volunteers" OR "family welfare educator" OR "village health guide" OR "agente comunitario de salud" OR "Agente comunitário de saúde" OR "Basic health worker" OR "asha" or "Colaborador voluntario" OR "Community drug distributor" OR "kader" OR "Maternal and child health worker" OR "Monitoras" OR "Shastho shebika" OR "Village drug-kit manager" OR "health extension worker" OR "accompagnateur" OR "accompanier")