The Impact of Telehealth on the Homeless Community

Published By: Majdulina Hamed

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Healthcare is always growing, expanding, and ever-changing especially with information communication technology. Telehealth as well as eHealth interventions in general can be key to helping the homeless community. Although there may be barriers to accessing health, there are also benefits of telehealth that should be taken into account.

Before discussing the connection between telehealth and the homeless population, it is crucial to define these terms. According to Health and Human Services, telehealth or telemedicine can be defined as access to health care without an in-person office visit (2019). Talking to your doctor on video chat, sending and receiving messages from your doctor, and using remote monitoring are some examples of telehealth. E-health, on the other hand, refers to “health services and information delivered through the internet and related technologies” (Polillo et. al., 2021). Additionally, telehealth can provide quality care that is more accessible and low-cost for homeless individuals. For instance, this has allowed “veterans dealing with homelessness to consult with case workers through telehealth kiosks at transitional housing, permanent housing and jail programs” (Jagasia, 2021). Homeless populations can benefit from telehealth initiatives, however, there are also barriers that are crucial to consider. With the growing presence of technology in today’s world, health care has become more innovative in utilizing virtual care. For instance, “telephone communication allows for remote care delivery and efficient communication. Video conferencing is another highly preferred method of virtual care, permitting real-time encounters and an ability to view images and documents simultaneously” (Jagasia, 2021).

When it comes to the benefits of technology in healthcare, there are several including better health outcomes, remote care delivery, and preventative initiatives. “Telehealth has the potential to increase access to healthcare services and improve health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness” (Bailey, 2021). In fact, “most persons experiencing homelessness have access to technology, including mobile phones, computers, and the internet” (Polillo et al., 2021). This indicates that access to technology can convey health information such as nutrition, mental health, the management of chronic medical conditions, and substance abuse. Additionally, electronic health or eHealth has the potential in being an effective means towards homeless individuals to better understand their health as well as have access to doctors. Not only that, but it is also important to recognize that geographic barriers will be reduced because instead of needing transportation, they can access quality care in the palm of their hands. “Increased telehealth access could also reduce unnecessary emergency department traffic at local hospitals, which often become the primary care providers for the homeless” (Bailey, 2021). Virtual care can ensure people receive care wherever they are located, “increased access to specialists who are located far away from your hometown” (HHS, 2022), and can limit physical contact which, in turn, reduces the exposure to COVID-19.

Even though there are benefits to telehealth and eHealth, there are also barriers that people experiencing homelessness endure on a daily basis. For example, COVID-19 has made it more challenging to receive health care especially for the homeless community. It is also important to note that “not everyone has equal access to resources or the motivation to seek healthcare” (Bailey, 2021). Moreover, individuals living in rural areas are at a disadvantage because of the lack of broadband connectivity. In fact, “more than one third of rural residents reported that high-speed internet access and access to a computer were obstacles to using telehealth; about one in four non-rural residents experienced these barriers” (Bailey, 2021). These findings indicate that although there are benefits to telehealth, there will still be limitations in which individuals may endure. Furthermore, accessing healthcare through telehealth can be beneficial to the elderly especially if they do not have the means to travel, however, confusing technology and limited internet access may still prove to be limitations.

In conclusion, telehealth can be a useful tool to access healthcare that can benefit the homeless population. Overall, telemedicine provides patients with a convenient and low-cost method for consulting clinicians and can provide quality care as well. However, there are also disadvantages to telehealth that must also be taken into consideration such as geographical location age, and being able to understand the technology can be a factor as well.


Bailey, V. (2021, August 13). Telehealth can improve health outcomes for homeless population. mHealthIntelligence. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from

HHS. (2022, March 25). What is telehealth? Health Resources & Services Administration. Retrieved April 7, 2022, from

Jagasia, A. A. (2021, May 3). Telemedicine Can Be Key to Helping the Homeless Community. U.S. News. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from

Polillo, A., Gran-Ruaz, S., Sylvestre, J., & Kerman, N. (2021). The use of eHealth interventions among persons experiencing homelessness: A systematic review. Digital health7, 2055207620987066.

About the author
Majdulina Hamed
Majdulina Hamed is a Master’s Health Administration graduate from the University of Central Florida. Maj also received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Communication from UCF as well as certificates in Health Communication and Leadership. Maj’s goals include public health education through health campaigns, initiatives, marketing, and communication.

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