Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and Netsmart together announced plans to implement a new electronic health record (EHR) specially designed for addiction treatment to deliver care to Boston’s homeless population with opioid use disorder. The solution will be utilized to enhance care delivery to mitigate overdoses and deaths among people experiencing homelessness in Boston.
“There are many people in Boston who are overdosing and dying in places like alleyways, public restrooms, on concrete sidewalks, etc.,” said BHCHP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jessie Gaeta. “Our goal is to get immediate help to those who have used drugs and are sedated to avoid that scenario altogether. The heart and soul of what we do are to save the lives of people who come through our doors so they can have the best chance for a better future.”
Boston has experienced an increase in drug overdose deaths since 2014. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the risk of opioid-related overdose death for an individual who has experienced homelessness is nearly 30 times higher than for the rest of the population.
In response to these growing numbers, BHCHP created the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT) program. SPOT provides a place for homeless individuals who are under the influence of opioids or sedating substances to be medically monitored and provided with nursing care and harm reduction education to avoid further harm or complications. Once an individual has stabilized, SPOT staff connect these individuals, who are often medically-complex, to medication for addiction treatment, detoxification services, primary care and other support services. BHCHP also provides further case management to assist with long-term health and social success.
“What we do is unique to how substance use care is delivered in health centers, particularly for a population that is as diverse and complex as those we serve,” said Gaeta. “We needed technology that could handle our distinct needs, while still being agile and user-friendly for our staff and clinicians. I appreciate Netsmart and its adaptability for meeting our specialized approach to treating substance use and facilitating case management. We believe Netsmart is the right partner to help us reach our goals with this program.”
BHCHP delivers a full spectrum of primary care, mental health and addiction services. It recognizes that behavioral healthcare is an essential element of quality integrated care. The care model at BHCHP unites behavioral health clinicians, case managers, physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses in close collaboration. They provide low-threshold engagement and constant care to individuals in a variety of settings, including on the streets, in shelter-based clinics, hospitals or supportive housing.
The ONC-certified EHR, paired with access to the expansive Netsmart network, will allow SPOT staff and clinicians to draw current and historical clinical data in real-time from other providers across healthcare to assist in making informed care decisions.
In-depth, sophisticated analytics embedded within the EHR will provide data that enables more significant insights and analysis of SPOT efforts, from both a client and organizational perspective. This will allow BHCHP to evaluate the SPOT program’s effectiveness for the individuals it serves, along with the community at large.
In its first three years, the SPOT team was able to care for more than 800 individuals in more than 10,000 encounters. Staff has also found that providing immediate observation and treatment has reduced the need for transferring care to an acute care setting and kept individuals from overutilizing the emergency department (ED), keeping healthcare costs down. BHCHP estimates that one-third of SPOT encounters would have resulted in an ED visit had it not been for the program.
“Our partnership with BHCHP is a terrific example of our solutions supporting the most diverse and innovative care delivery,” said Netsmart CEO Mike Valentine. “Opioid overdose doesn’t discriminate, so everyone must have access to effective care that is safe, regardless of life circumstance. By providing timely care during a critical moment in an individual’s life and connecting them with support for the long haul, SPOT is making a tremendous impact. Their approach is a prime example of taking forward-thinking steps in combatting this persistent crisis. We are looking forward to our continued partnership with BHCHP as together we work to reduce overdoses among homeless individuals in Boston and beyond.”
About Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
Boston Health Care for the Homeless (BHCHP) was founded in 1985 with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust in response to the growth in homelessness in cities across the country. Our mission then and now is to assure quality health care for homeless individuals and families in the great Boston area. BHCHP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
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Netsmart is pleased to support the EveryDayMatters® Foundation, which was established for behavioral health, care at home, senior living and social services organizations to learn from each other and share their causes and stories.