170130 helping the homeless - Hospitals housing the homeless — fulfilling missions, improving outcomes

Hospitals housing the homeless — fulfilling missions, improving outcomes

Kudos to several of Sentry Data Systems’ hospital customers, who were recognized in a recent article in “Hospitals & Health Networks” for truly changing the trajectory of healthcare in their communities by providing a stable, secure living environment for the homeless. For those of us who directly support disproportionate share hospitals and their surrounding communities, we understand the importance of a multifaceted team approach to help the underserved.

One example is the 340B program, which provides savings to covered entities through drug discounts, long been enabling vital community services that would not be possible without these savings dollars. 340B has allowed hospitals to provide support and care for the homeless, and together with these new housing initiatives, the tables will begin to turn for indigent populations in these communities.

From a broader perspective, there should be no surprise that discharging patients to an unsafe environment leads to suboptimal outcomes. The underserved members of our society lack a fair chance to restore and maintain a positive health status when faced with inadequate housing, lack of access to medications, transportation for medical follow-up and community support.

The research on the devastating effects of homelessness demonstrates the seriousness of the problem:

  • On average, homeless people spend 2.3 days longer in acute hospital care compared to non-homeless patients and cost $961 more per discharge.[i]
  • The median length of stay for homeless patients is twice as long as that for non-homeless patients[ii]
  • The 30-day inpatient hospital readmission rate among homeless patients was 50.8 percent.[iii]

The transition to value-based care has brought to the forefront the importance of including social determinants in the care delivery equation. This can only be accomplished if healthcare systems partner with community support entities to devise new solutions to fix age-old problems like homelessness. We commend our hospital customers for their contributions and out-of-the-box thinking to solve this difficult dilemma and improve the quality of life for the underserved.

[i] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21368678

[ii] http://www.publichealthjrnl.com/article/S0033-3506(14)00129-2/fulltext