For Traditional Health Workers

Welcome to the traditional health worker (THW) resources page for OHSU Health IDS providers.  

A traditional health worker is a person who has similar life experiences with the people they work with. They can assist members in getting services and care that support their health and wellbeing by helping with things like: 

  • Navigating the health system. 
  • Understanding benefits. 
  • Connecting to community resources. 
  • Cross-cultural communication. 
  • Connecting to health care providers. 

THWs can be found in community-based organizations and in primary care and behavioral health clinics. Their help is a free benefit to Oregon Health Plan members and does not require a referral or prior authorization from OHSU Health IDS. However, organizations with THWs may have their own referral requirements to access care.  

Not all THWs are contracted with OHSU Health IDS or provide services to Medicaid members. To learn more about your THW network and access for OHSU Health IDS members you serve, contact

Types of Traditional Health Workers

There are five types of THWs licensed in Oregon: 

  • Doulas are trained birth companions. They provide support to pregnant people and families during pregnancy, birth and beyond. 
  • Peer support specialists give support services to people who are or have been in mental health or substance use treatment. 
  • Peer wellness specialists have personal experience with psychiatric conditions plus intensive training. They’re part of a home health team that combines mental health with primary care. 
  • Personal health navigators provide tools to help patients make the best health care choices. 
  • Community health workers are public health workers who are trusted members of a community and have a close understanding of it. 

    Birth doulas

    OHSU Health IDS promotes the use and inclusion of licensed/certified traditional health workers, including peer support specialists, peer wellness specialists, personal health navigators and community health workers. OHP members do not need a referral to work with a traditional health worker. 

    Doula care is a covered benefit for OHP members. The benefit package covers two visits before delivery, support during delivery, and two visits post-delivery. OHSU Health Service OHP members can use:  

      Enrolling as a THW with OHA

      THW certification requires training and ongoing education. 

      The OHA Office of Equity and Inclusion has identified Best and Promising Practices & Other Resources for THWs. This information is available on the OHA-OEI THW website: 
      Traditional-Health-Worker-Toolkit-2019-Final.pdf ( 

      Apply to the THW Registry  

      • Visit this OHA page to find the application and more information. 

        Enrolling as a THW with OHSU Health IDS

        Contact OHSU Health IDS at

        THW billing and claims

        For the most current guidance in billing, view the 2024 Doula Billing Guide