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Building the Plane While Flying It
Case Studies on COVID-19, Telehealth, and Health Care for the Homeless Centers

Resource Topic: Emerging Issues, Health Information Technology (HIT)/Data, Special and Vulnerable Populations

Resource Subtopic: Behavioral Health, COVID-19, Telehealth, Health Equity, Patient Engagement.

Keywords: Access to Care, Persons Experiencing Homelessness.

Year Developed: 2020

Resource Type: Publication

Primary Audience: Administrative Staff C-Suite (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, CMOs, etc) Clinicians Outreach Staff
Secondary Audience: Board of Directors Enabling Staff PCAs

Language: English

Developed by: National Health Care for the Homeless Council (See other resources developed by this organization).

Resource Summary: As is the case for most health centers, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Health Care for the Homeless health centers to rapidly adopt telehealth strategies to sustain client services remotely. But serving patients without homes necessitates additional innovation to reach clients in shelters, quarantine facilities, or even on the street, while attending to complex health and social needs. These case studies profile 17 HCH health centers and 2 consumers, offering a range of pragmatic, insightful perspectives on HCH telehealth in the COVID world.

Resource Details: The National Health Care for the Homeless Council conducted telephone interviews in June 2020 with experts representing 17 HCH health centers across the United States. The Council also conducted two consumer interviews to ensure people with lived experience of homelessness are included in the emerging discussion of best practices for telehealth. The goal of this report is two-fold: 1) to share these centers’ stories and their successes, challenges, lessons learned, and future strategies for virtual care in hopes that other health centers may find strategies and inspiration to adjust similarly during the ongoing pandemic, and 2) to show that telehealth is a viable and successful way to deliver care to people experiencing homelessness.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,375,000 with 0 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.