Care provider reviewing paperwork with a patient

topic area 

Socioeconomic Disadvantage 


Emergency Departments at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center


The focus of this survey study is to understand whether Penn Medicine patients seeking care in the Emergency Department (ED) are eligible for, have interest in accessing, and can be feasibly screened for public benefit enrollment.


Every year, Philadelphians fail to claim approximately $450 million dollars in federal and state benefits that they are eligible and qualify for, including support for food, housing, and healthcare. The reasons that benefits are unclaimed are numerous, including lack of awareness, lack of agency in accessing benefits, and challenges with completing paperwork.1
Patients who are triaged to care in Penn Medicine Emergency Departments (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center) will be approached by research personnel and asked to participate in the study where they will complete two brief surveys assessing their experiences in applying for public benefits in the past, their interest in connecting with public benefits specialists in the ED, any perceived challenges to applying for and enrolling in public benefits, and a baseline summary of the types of public benefits programs the ED patient population may be eligible for.

1 Source: Thompson, N. (2021, March 21). Philadelphians leave $450 million on the table in federal and state benefits annually. Al Dia News.


Insights from this survey study will inform a future randomized controlled pilot focused on trialing an intervention in Penn Medicine Emergency Departments to connect patients with public benefits via a dedicated phone line created in partnership with Benefits Data Trust. 


in progress

AHE lead(s)

Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, FAHA, Penn Medicine

funding source

Penn Medicine Dean's Innovation Award