Housing insecurity is a major social determinant of public health, although the problem has been too often neglected. But now some hospitals across America are trying to address it, says a report by the Root Cause Coalition. It discusses efforts by three hospital systems.
The report‘s authors note that housing issues can include homelessness and/or housing options that are too expensive. Millions of Americans face these issues, which can lead to very serious physical and mental illnesses.
Patients with housing insecurity are less likely to get needed healthcare, saving their very scare resources for housing and food.
And so, the report says, ” hospitals like those under Partners HealthCare (based in Boston) are screening patients more closely for housing insecurity and other social determinants of health…. Patients flagged by the health system as potentially at risk for or suffering from housing concerns are connected with community organizations that offer support like short-term rental assistance, financial coaching, job training and other potentially beneficial programs.”
Consider Boston Medical Center, which has partnered with community groups to identify children in families that have high rates of emergency department use. ER ”superusers” are a heavy burden on the industry.
BMC’s program offers housing prescriptions to patients and links them with care-coordination services to prevent or at least reduce unneeded ED visits.
In Cleveland, University Hospitals has a local economic-stimulus program with a housing component.
Finding stable housing for the currently homeless has been good for hospitals, too, in that it can cut the costs of care for patients with chronic conditions who require inpatient stays. Homeless patients are more likely to be readmitted than people with secure housing.
To read the report, please hit this link.