Breaking Down Silos: How to Share Data to Improve the Health of People Experiencing Homelessness

Jul 13, 2021 | by
  • Description

Housing is a key social determinant of health. Stable housing can help maintain health and reduce unnecessary emergency room use and hospital admissions, while research indicates that addressing the health-related needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is crucial to accessing and sustaining housing.

Because homelessness in California exists on an unprecedented scale — with more than 150,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day — purposeful collaborations between the health care and homeless systems of care are critical. Such efforts have taken a variety of forms, including Whole Person Care pilot programs and collaborations aimed at improving care for those who frequently touch both the health care and homeless systems of care — while reducing the costs of the two systems so they can serve more people.

This report focuses on ways in which California's housing and health care sectors are sharing data to better coordinate and support mutual clients within their communities. Data sharing has been pivotal in breaking down silos and improving coordination between the two systems to better address clients' needs.

Yet despite dedicated and committed partnerships in place for cross-sector collaboration, data sharing efforts have not occurred without challenges. Communities have raised a common set of barriers they have faced, including privacy issues, relationships and collaboration, interoperability, and data quality.

While there are no uniform ways to address the common challenges, communities have creatively employed strategies and taken advantage of opportunities to continue pushing forward data sharing efforts. These opportunities have proven most effective when tailored to each community's own needs, structures, relationships, and motivations.