A digital health screening template for homeless people has been introduced in London by UK charity, Pathway.
It’s aimed at providing better care for the estimated 4,700 people sleeping rough in the UK.
The charity worked with software provider Emis Health to develop a template which gives doctors and health workers a way to maintain a detailed picture of a homeless person’s health. The template enables doctors to capture health information including, clinical history, mental health and addiction issues, as well as details on housing and financial status.
The two groups worked with 11 specialist homeless healthcare services in London to make the template available for use by 200 staff. The charity hopes to roll it out across the whole of the UK to help relieve pressure on hard-pressed hospital departments.
Individual hospitals have previously been using different codes and record system which has resulted in inconsistent record-keeping, stopping homeless people from receiving the best treatment.
Samantha Dorney-Smith, nursing fellow at Pathway said: “Homeless people are five times more likely to attend A&E and four times more likely to be admitted to hospital than the housed population. The template will enable doctors to see patients’ health priorities, provide more effective treatment and help relieve pressure on the NHS by reducing bed days and treatment costs.”
Ms Dorney-Smith says that the template could help the NHS more accurately track and analyse illness and infection rates for homeless people.
“The template will make it much easier to commission large-scale health services, treating patients who are homeless more effectively, economically and on a much larger scale. It has the potential to be a real game changer,” Dorney-Smith added.
Dr Tim Robson, clinical lead for the Pathway Homeless Health Care Team at University College London Hospitals said: “This new template allows for the accurate monitoring and measuring of outcomes, which are essential to demonstrate that expected standards are being met, and that we are using financial resources prudently. It’s a very real step forward.”
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS Group said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Pathway and were pleased to offer our expertise free of charge to help create this vital template. With homeless people statistically 10 times more likely to die early than the rest of the population, there is a real need for this vulnerable group to receive specialist help, and this template will assist clinicians in driving up standards of care.”