Power of Hotspotting: Report Reveals Hospital Utilization Patterns in the Greater New Brunswick Area
A recently-released report demonstrates the power of hotspotting in providing objective data to support thoughtful, informed local community health planning. Funded by The Nicholson Foundation, The Greater New Brunswick Hotspotting Project examined hospital utilization patterns in New Brunswick and Franklin Township, New Jersey from 2012-2013.
The Project revealed that about 3% of the 45,316 patients visiting either Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital or Saint Peter’s University Hospital over that time period could be classified as Medicaid high-utilizers (i.e., patients with five or more emergency department visits or three or more hospitalizations over two years). These patients were highly geographically concentrated, with 10% of census blocks in New Brunswick and Franklin Township accounting for almost 30% of Medicaid high-utilizers, and 37% of hospital receipts. The average two-year cost per patient from all hotspots was $17,997.
By analyzing data to the granular level—even to the level of individual buildings—the report provides a solid, data-driven case for changing the way healthcare providers work together. The authors posit that reducing costs will require coordination and cooperation across primary care, acute care, hospitals, and behavioral health facilities, as well as across neighboring county and municipal jurisdictions providing social services.
The report provides important lessons on the utility of applying hotspotting techniques that other communities could use to help contain rising healthcare costs and improve the health outcomes of their residents.