New York City, NY, August 17, 2020 — Healthix developed a way to uniquely identify homeless patients, many displaced by COVID-19, to improve their health outcomes by qualifying them for social services benefits, like public housing.
In March 2020, around 61,000 people in New York City were reported homeless. Healthix identified this issue and wanted to improve the healthcare of these individuals. Challenges stood in their way, however. It’s hard for an HIE to connect with individuals that don’t have addresses, and qualifying the homeless patient for social services benefits is challenging.
To tackle the first issue, Healthix received a $1.1 million grant through New York eHealth Collaborative to develop a system that sets up proxy addresses for homeless patients. These addresses are shelters, places of worship, government facilities, or healthcare facilities. As Tom Moore, VP of innovation for Healthix, explained in an interview with EHRIntelligence, “When the patient gives one of those proxies as an address, that’s an indication that they’re homeless.”
After the patient is identified as homeless, there is the process of qualifying them for social service benefits. Healthix, however, used its extensive HIE database to identify the patients’ clinical needs to improve their living situation. Moore elaborated, “If an individual is chronically ill, particularly if the patient has HIV, the person is fast-tracked into a better housing situation.”
To further tackle the challenge of qualifying the homeless patient for social services benefits, Healthix added the New York City Department of Social Services as a participant to their HIE.
“That addition creates a real opportunity to coordinate care because often when somebody is in a shelter, it’s beneficial for their care providers to know that they’re housed in the shelter and what their status is,” Moore elaborated. “If the provider is taking care of somebody, and they know the person is in a shelter, knowing their clinical history is also very useful.”
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