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The potential for health-related uses of mobile phones and internet with homeless veterans: results from a multisite survey.

McInnes DK, Sawh L, Petrakis BA, Rao S, Shimada SL, Eyrich-Garg KM, Gifford AL, Anaya HD, Smelson DA. The potential for health-related uses of mobile phones and internet with homeless veterans: results from a multisite survey. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2014 Sep 1; 20(9):801-9.

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BACKGROUND: Addressing the health needs of homeless veterans is a priority in the United States, and, although information technologies can potentially improve access to and engagement in care, little is known about this population's use of information technologies or their willingness to use technologies to communicate with healthcare providers and systems. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study fills this gap through a survey of homeless veterans' use of information technologies and their attitudes about using these technologies to assist with accessing needed healthcare services. RESULTS: Among the 106 homeless veterans surveyed, 89% had a mobile phone (one-third were smartphones), and 76% used the Internet. Among those with a mobile phone, 71% used text messaging. Nearly all respondents (93%) were interested in receiving mobile phone reminders (text message or phone call) about upcoming medical appointments, and a similar proportion (88%) wanted mobile phone outreach asking if they would like to schedule an appointment if they had not been seen by a health provider in over a year. In addition, respondents already used these technologies for information and communication related to health, housing, and jobs. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest new avenues for communication and health interventions for hard-to-reach homeless veterans.

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