How Housing Is Healthcare: A Member Success Story

By Brad Mendelson
AbsoluteCare Vice President, Innovative Operations

For decades, healthcare costs have been soaring, and the sky seems to be the limit. But over the last 15 years, with the identification of what’s known as the social determinants of health (SDoH), there’s been a sea change.

We at AbsoluteCare embrace the idea that focusing on improving SDoH—where people live, work, play, worship, eat, and gather—improves the quality of their care, restores their health, and reduces the cost of doing it.

Let’s look at how it worked for Mr. X.

Homeless and suffering from knee pain, he was like many without housing: he had no primary care physician, and he needed shelter and pain relief. In the year before being housed, Mr. X made over 200 trips to the hospital emergency room and had 70 days inpatient, amassing claims costs of over $140,000.

When we met him, Mr. X did not immediately admit to being homeless. An exam discovered that he had not only a torn meniscus (responsible for considerable knee pain) but also congestive heart failure, COPD, an enlarged prostate, peripheral edema, back pain, and an abdominal hernia.

AbsoluteCare put Mr. X’s core care team to work for several months. We:

• Arranged for a cardiology follow-up and hernia repair surgery
• Supported him with a post-op recovery plan
• Helped him apply for and receive free phones, a replacement social security card, food, and other resources, as needed
• Set up weekly meetings with our social worker, at which time he was able to pick up his prescription medications, which have since been greatly reduced

We made continuous efforts to find housing for Mr. X, but he declined shelters and other supportive living arrangements.

We first saw him before the beginning of the pandemic. After a few months in our care, Mr. X has:

• Stayed on touch with us by phone throughout the pandemic
• Demonstrated compliance with medication protocols
• Been scheduled for an ENT and orthopedist evaluation for ear and knee pain
• Moved into an AbsoluteCare-sponsored apartment in August 2018
• Quit smoking

His ER utilization dropped to zero.

Read more about addressing the SDoH here.