(Blog post written by Courtney Bernard| August 8th, 2016 for Act online http://actonline.org/2016/08/08/how-cloud-based-platform-lifewire-is-becoming-a-critical-lifeline-for-homeless-vets/)
There are currently more than 47,000 homeless veterans in the United States – and another 1.4 million are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support, and poor living conditions.
By nature, it’s difficult to contact homeless veterans, especially if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse (SU). Even though there are federally-funded programs that help provide safe housing, physical and mental healthcare, and career services to veterans, they are seemingly invisible to those that need them the most.
Richmond, Virginia-based LifeWIRE is working to address this problem through its cloud-based communication platform. LifeWIRE creates a virtual support team of case managers, pharmacists, and clinicians for homeless veterans. Support teams can check in on homeless veterans via text message, allowing the vets to get help without having to interact directly with an authority figure.
Veterans can also initiate outreach to their support team by texting different codes to dedicated numbers. By simply texting a pre-determined keyword, a vet can be automatically pre-screened, referred to the appropriate resource for their issue, and given an appointment time for a checkup.
In a recent blog post, LifeWIRE President and CEO Howard Rosen explained that a key factor in working with the homeless population is allowing them to have an anonymous relationship with care providers, especially when a veteran is dealing with PTSD, SU, or other issues like paranoia. That’s why LifeWIRE uses technology that veterans are already comfortable with – text messages and mobile phones.
Howard says that more than 90 percent of homeless veterans already have mobile phones. For those that don’t, there are a number of government programs that provide free phones and service to veterans. And because the platform is device-agnostic, seemingly any mobile phone can work with LifeWIRE.
Since 2011, the company has incorporated over 3,500 insights from veterans and their care providers to inform the LifeWIRE platform. They have found that the intimate connection between patient and support team creates the right conditions to help users return to a productive life. In some cases, health providers have seen a 32 percent reduction in readmissions for LifeWIRE users. And staff time spent managing veterans has dropped up to 80 percent, enabling care providers to help even more people in need.
Over the next six months, LifeWIRE will continue to expand its work through the Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, and other organizations to help these populations, particularly those suffering from PTSD, SU, and other severe conditions.
Learn more about LifeWIRE here.
Image: Rui Duarte / no changes made / license
By Courtney Bernard| August 8th, 2016