Team Member: Kanal Chhajed
Supervisor: Alisa dePedro
Managing a chronic health condition is exhausting, and social determinants of health can make it more so. Community Health Workers (CHWs) serve as liaisons between low-income patients and healthcare systems, working to improve access to preventative care and bolster clinical outcomes.
Cigna’s past CHWs pilots had incredible clinical results, but participants were sourced through recruitment agencies. Working on a team of two, I explored strategies for effective, organic community outreach to support future pilot programs.
(To ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, all research for this project was conducted virtually.)
Project Phases
Discover (A)
Before crafting outreach strategies for Cigna's program, Kanal and I needed to understand existing CHW models. At the start of the project, we collected quotes from academic and professional literature and affinitized them in Miro.​​​​​​​
We also conducted interviews with 3 CHWs to understand their day-to-day work and relationships with patients (discussion guide). Through this process, we started to understand the qualities that make CHWs so unique:
KEY FINDING #1: Narrative-Centered Care
CHWs are successful because they focus on health narratives and meet people where they are.
KEY FINDING #2: Personal Relationships
The CHWs we interviewed said it best: “Add me to the list of people you can call, because I’m part of your support network now.”​​​​​​​
Discover (B)
Based on this knowledge of existing programs and CHW relationships, Kanal and I created three messaging mock-ups for future Cigna pilots.
Overview of our 3 Flyer Mock-ups
Overview of our 3 Flyer Mock-ups
Relationship-Focused Mock-up Rationale
Relationship-Focused Mock-up Rationale
Testimonial-Focused Mock-up Rationale
Testimonial-Focused Mock-up Rationale
We tested these prototypes through hour-long sessions with five users (discussion guide). In each interview, we discussed participants' past experiences with health programs as well as their reactions to the three mock-ups.

Kanal and I then affinitized our research data into five key learnings. We used portions of both the 5 E's and Jobs to be Done frameworks to organize our findings.
Using these insights, we developed a research report to present to Cigna stakeholders.
Following our research presentation, Cigna successfully recruited their next pilot cohort by reaching participants through their primary care providers—someone they already had a long-term, trusting relationship with. Since then, CHW programs have continued to gain visibility within Cigna as an emerging method with great clinical potential.
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