Monica Bharel is with the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and the Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center, Boston. Wen-Chieh Lin, Jianying Zhang, Elizabeth O'Connell, and Robin E. Clark are with the Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Boston. Wen-Chieh Lin and Robin E. Clark are with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School. At the time of the study, Robert Taube was with the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.
We studied 6494 Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) patients to understand the disease burden and health care utilization patterns for a group of insured homeless individuals.
We studied merged BHCHP data and MassHealth eligibility, claims, and encounter data from 2010. MassHealth claims and encounter data provided a comprehensive history of health care utilization and expenditures, as well as associated diagnoses, in both general medical and behavioral health services sectors and across a broad range of health care settings.
The burden of disease was high, with the majority of patients experiencing mental illness, substance use disorders, and a number of medical diseases. Hospitalization and emergency room use were frequent and total expenditures were 3.8 times the rate of an average Medicaid recipient.
The Affordable Care Act provides a framework for reforming the health care system to improve the coordination of care and outcomes for vulnerable populations. However, improved health care coverage alone may not be enough. Health care must be integrated with other resources to address the complex challenges presented by inadequate housing, hunger, and unsafe environments.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homelessness is a primary concern for community health. Scientific literature on homelessness is wide ranging and diverse. One opportunity to add to existing literature is the development and testing of affordable, easily implemented methods for measuring the impact of homeless on the healthcare system. Such methodological approaches rely on the strengths in a multidisciplinary approach, including providers, both healthcare and homeless services and applied clinical researchers. This paper is a proof of concept for a methodology which is easily adaptable nationwide, given the mandated implementation of homeless management information systems in the United States and other countries; medical billing systems by hospitals; and research methods of researchers. Adaptation is independent of geographic region, budget restraints, specific agency skill sets, and many other factors that impact the application of a consistent methodological science based approach to assess and address homelessness. We conducted a secondary data analysis merging data from homeless utilization and hospital case based data. These data detailed care utilization among homeless persons in a small, Appalachian city in the United States. In our sample of 269 persons who received at least one hospital based service and one homeless service between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, the total billed costs were $5,979,463 with 10 people costing more than one-third ($1,957,469) of the total. Those persons were primarily men, living in an emergency shelter, with pre-existing disabling conditions. We theorize that targeted services, including Housing First, would be an effective intervention. This is proposed in a future study.
Journal of Community Health 06/2014; 40(1). DOI:10.1007/s10900-014-9892-0 · 1.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the European Union, more than 400,000 individuals are homeless on any one night and more than 600,000 are homeless in the USA. The causes of homelessness are an interaction between individual and structural factors. Individual factors include poverty, family problems, and mental health and substance misuse problems. The availability of low-cost housing is thought to be the most important structural determinant for homelessness. Homeless people have higher rates of premature mortality than the rest of the population, especially from suicide and unintentional injuries, and an increased prevalence of a range of infectious diseases, mental disorders, and substance misuse. High rates of non-communicable diseases have also been described with evidence of accelerated ageing. Although engagement with health services and adherence to treatments is often compromised, homeless people typically attend the emergency department more often than non-homeless people. We discuss several recommendations to improve the surveillance of morbidity and mortality in homeless people. Programmes focused on high-risk groups, such as individuals leaving prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and the child welfare system, and the introduction of national and state-wide plans that target homeless people are likely to improve outcomes.
The Lancet 10/2014; 384(9953):1529-40. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61132-6 · 45.22 Impact Factor
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