How Telehealth can Improve Health Outcomes for Homeless Population

How Telehealth can Improve Health Outcomes for Homeless Population

High healthcare costs, lack of mobility, and a lack of health insurance sometimes prohibit homeless people from seeking and receiving the care they require. Telehealth as a solution for this demographic could be a viable option.

Fremont, CA: According to experts from the Medical University of South Carolina, telehealth offers the potential to expand access to healthcare services and improve health outcomes for those who are homeless.

Researchers gathered data from a community health clinic serving homeless persons in an urban southern metropolis and staffed by MUSC care providers to analyze access to care, quality of care, and patient satisfaction in a study just published in the Telemedicine and e-Health Journal. Both in-person and telemedicine treatments were available at the clinic.

High healthcare costs, lack of mobility, and a lack of health insurance sometimes prohibit homeless people from seeking and receiving the care they require. Telehealth as a solution for this demographic could be a viable option.

Prior to their consultation, all patients seeking care at the clinic were polled regarding their health and access to care. A post-visit clinical survey focused on satisfaction, and future telehealth use was also given to them. The responses of individuals who had a telehealth visit and those who had an in-person visit were then compared by MUSC researchers.

Telehealth had a 92.7 percent total satisfaction rating from this population, according to the survey. Over nine out of ten patients stated the telehealth visit improved their health, saved them time, and made it easier to contact a doctor. These levels of satisfaction were equivalent to those of patients who received face-to-face appointments.

More than one-third of patients indicated they would not have sought care at all if they hadn't had access to telehealth, while 29.1 percent said they would have gone to the emergency room instead.

Nearly 60 percent of the patients rated their health as fair or poor, emphasizing the reality that many of these people require healthcare yet encounter difficulties in receiving it. Moreover, half of those polled said they are dealing with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, and 52.4 percent said they are dealing with physical health issues like chronic illnesses.

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