Hospitals are always looking for ways to save money. Here's one that might surprise you: hospitals that reach out to help homeless people before they pass through emergency room doors can save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. That's according to two studies, one in Chicago and the other in Seattle.
The Chicago study, according to Miller-McCune, focused on 600 chronically ill homeless people, with 200 of them receiving case management and housing:
The group included people living on the street from 30 days to 30 years, in many ways mirroring the 3.5 million Americans (and growing) who face homelessness at some point during the year.
Researchers also selected those with chronic health conditions other than mental health or substance abuse, although participants with these and other conditions were not excluded.
"We wanted, in part, to show whether or not this model works, but we also wanted the literature to broaden and not portray the homeless as severely mentally ill or alcohol dependent or drug abusers because that's just a small portion of the homeless," Dr. Laura Sadowski said.
After 18 months, the group of 200 patients with housing — the intervention group — each made at least one trip to the hospital, but overall they reduced their hospitalizations on average by 2.7 days per person per year, which translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars, far more than the costs of providing the services.