restricted access The Use Of Electronic Medical Records For Homeless Outreach

Objectives. To assess the features of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) used by North American homeless outreach organizations.

Methods. Twenty-eight homeless outreach agencies throughout North America were contacted. Nine used EMRs for homeless outreach. Service providers from these nine agencies were interviewed to learn more about their EMRs.

Results. While all of the agencies we interviewed were using different EMR systems, the important features of these EMRs were quite similar. Two of the most frequently cited essential features were: 1) the ability of different sites and providers to access medical information; and 2) the capacity to collect aggregated client data (such as numbers of clients served, services provided, and outcomes) for planning, evaluation, and advocacy purposes.

Conclusion. An electronic medical record (EMR) available at multiple locations to multiple providers is a powerful tool with the potential to improve the coordination, safety, efficiency, and quality of care to people who are homeless.