Collaborative care for patients in need is focus of ‘student hotspotting’ program

December 14, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Brent Williams, M.D., center, along with student hotspotters and case managers at a recent team meeting.

“Student hotspotting” has arrived on the U-M campus. The name comes from data-driven techniques of mapping crime and focusing resources on the hot spots.

The student hotspotting program at U-M trains interprofessional student teams to work with “super-utilizers,” the small number of patients with hard-to-manage needs who end up accounting for a high percentage of health care dollars.

Students and faculty advisors for the hotspotters program span a half-dozen U-M graduate schools. The lead medical advisor is Brent Williams, M.D., a U-M professor of internal and general medicine, member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and medical director of the U-M Complex Care Management Program (CCMP) since its inception in 2007.

Williams has years of experience with interprofessional education (IPE) and clinical care. At the core of the national student hotspotting model — more than a decade in the making at the New Jersey-based Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers — is the realization that heavy health-care utilization for many patients is driven by more than physical disease. Complications like unstable housing, isolation and other social challenges are often the root of the problem and need to be addressed for medical interventions to be successful.

That’s where the student hotspotters enter the picture.

“Think about how well-informed family members might help someone with a mosaic of issues,” said Stuart Hammond, a U-M public health and policy student who was instrumental in getting student hotspotting established on campus. “We aren’t providing care, but rather making connections to the services needed,” he said.

Williams has helped the students negotiate administrative processes, and worked out how the student engagement with patients would work at Michigan. “It became a good idea for CCMP to play a brokering role,” he explained. “My contribution brought structures, with ‘bumpers’ around such things as patient confidentiality and practice standards.”

The students will work with needy patients referred to CCMP but not enrolled. These are patients limited by social challenges more than medical complexity, and thus outside of needing CCMP’s medical care management. Williams expects the group to benefit greatly from being contacted by students.

Read more on the program by clicking here.