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Heather Cobb

Sr. Director, Creative & Strategy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Hot Spotting: A Healthcare Trend at the Pulse

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5% of the nation’s sickest citizens account for more than half of healthcare costs.

Have you heard of ‘hot spotting’? It’s a really promising strategy that can help people with the most complex healthcare needs get the help they need, while dramatically lowering healthcare costs.

Developed organically out of Camden, NJ — one of the nation’s poorest cities — by physician Jeremy Brenner, hot spotting uses data to identify small groups of people who account for the most healthcare dollars.

Brenner and his team used hospital data to map ‘hot spots’ of healthcare high-utilizers. He found, for example, that one patient went to the hospital 113 times in a single year, and residents in just two Camden apartment buildings represented some of the city’s highest utilizers, accounting for $30 million in medical spending.

These individuals repeatedly used the emergency room for care, at great cost to the healthcare system. And their reliance on such costly, segmented care leads them to go without a care manager who could help them access appropriate, more cost-effective care in an integrated manner.

Through hot spotting, healthcare providers target high utilizers for resources such as sending a team, a nurse, or care manager to a person’s home to assess why a person uses healthcare resources the way they do, and how their health can be improved — and ER use diverted — through other settings and models.

Dr. Brenner and his team reduced hospital visits and cut costs in half by improving care coordination, social services, and dedicated attention from nurses. Now, communities nationwide are trying similar approaches.

Dr. Brenner presented in a thought leader session at the 2013 National Council Conference. You can access his presentation to learn more.