Expanding "Hot Spotting" to New Communities

01 May 2012

On March 29, 2012, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation held a briefing in Washington, DC to highlight the work of Jeffrey Brenner, MD. Brenner, a local Camden, N.J., physician, spurred a national health discussion with a feature in the New Yorker describing his work improving health care in one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the country.

At the briefing, Brenner discussed his work identifying "hot spots" in and beyond New Jersey, and colleagues from Maine and Delaware discussed their local efforts to address high-utilizers. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation highlighted the model’s upcoming expansion into six different Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) communities in 2012.

Using medical billing data from hospitals in Camden, Brenner located “hot spots” of high-cost patients—even down to the city block. The patients he found were “high-utilizers”, repeatedly accessing emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with complex medical conditions compounded by diverse social issues. By providing and coordinating the medical care and social services these patients needed, Brenner and his group were able, in some instances, to reduce the cost of their care by almost half. Today, Brenner advises many communities attempting to replicate his success in Camden by finding hot spots in their own back yards.