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Program Aimed at Providing Housing & Support Services for People Experiencing Homelessness Sees 75% Decrease in Emergency Department Visits and 79% Decrease in Admissions

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Health Partners Plans, Keystone First, Resources for Human Development, Inc. and Temple University Hospital Teaming Up for “Housing Smart” Program

Health Partners Plans, Keystone First, Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD) and Temple University Hospital today announced their collaborative pilot program aimed directly at improving the health of homeless patients by providing them with housing subsidies and support services. Between April and October 2020, the “Housing Smart” program enrolled 25 high healthcare utilizers with instances of avoidable emergency department or inpatient admissions. Priority was given to participants with opioid use disorder (OUD) and persistent mental illness with co-occurring physical health conditions.

The program has thus far seen a significant decrease in emergency department utilization and inpatient admissions for the 25 enrollees. Among the cohort, when comparing average monthly volume of utilization data from one-year pre-housed to the average monthly volume of utilization data of move-in date onward, there has been a 75% decrease in emergency department visits, 79% decrease in inpatient admissions, 77% decrease in admissions for observation and 50% increase in outpatient appointments.

As part of the program, Temple University Hospital worked with Health Partners Plans (HPP) and Keystone First to identify the participating patients who are members of the health plans. RHD then engaged with the participants to connect them with housing and other non-clinical services that are significant determinants to health outcomes.

RHD staff members carry out the community-based work for the program. That work consists of three core areas: Peer Support Services, Care Coordination, and Housing Support Services. They focus on engaging and providing guidance to participants, all of whom have experienced homelessness and may be in crisis. Staff also supports linkages to additional services, including treatment for opioid use disorder and behavioral health issues. The team provides global care coordination focused on supporting clinical and non-clinical needs while facilitating transitions to new housing placements. As this program enters year 2, the team is focusing on opportunities for employment and training that will help with sustaining housing and broadening life enhancing opportunities.

“For many of our patients, improving their overall health first requires addressing the social determinants of health, and housing is the second most impactful social determinant of health after food security,” said Steven R. Carson, MHA, BSN, RN, Senior Vice President of Population Health for Temple University Health System. “By engaging these patients in such a novel program, our goal is to help them bring meaningful and lasting health improvement to their lives. If the program is successful in proving this concept, we hope to expand it in the future.”

HPP Quote:
Dr. Howard Lu, Chief Clinical Officer, Health Partners Plans:
“In a city like Philadelphia, creating and sustaining partnerships is critical to serving health plan members with complex needs. Offering our members housing resources is much needed to impact their overall health and well-being. Partnering with entities that can provide housing, behavioral health and non-clinical support in coordination with other organizations can truly impact population health in our region and make long-lasting positive change in our shared membership. Health Partners Plans is excited to be a part of the Housing Smart Program.”

Keystone First Quote:
Dr. Lily Higgins, Market Chief Medical Officer, Keystone First:
“To provide high-quality service to our members, we need to be creative and collaborative. Housing Smart is both; it seeks to work across systems in an effort to engage hard-to reach, and at risk, members with individualized support and supportive housing. We are encouraged by the prospect of improving the health – and overall well-being – of our members through this innovative approach.”

RHD Quote:
“We’re excited to bring this new approach to Philadelphia,” said RHD CEO Marco Giordano. “As we celebrate 50 years of service, RHD is proud to be part of another innovative collaboration that provides life-changing services to Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations and takes trauma-informed care to the next level.”