Hotspotting in Springfield

Student participants in hotspotting program

Twelve Springfield BSN students took part in a six-month long program to learn “hotspotting,” a process of identifying hospital super-users to help them find better, more cost-effective medical care.

“Some of these people, really, they’ve been abandoned,” said Jennie VanSchyndel, clinical instructor at UIC Nursing-Springfield. “The healthcare system has just not worked for them.”

Through the program, the students worked in teams to help nine patients with complex histories avoid the hospital visits. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, super-users represent one percent of patients, yet account for up to 30 percent of health care costs.

The program kicked off with a day-long training on Sept. 9, 2017, at SIU’s School of Medicine in Springfield, one of four hubs that serve as centers for training and mentorship across the country. Attendees represented an array of healthcare professions and came from institutions including the University of Chicago, Emory University and the University of Michigan. It was hosted in partnership with Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, where the program originated.

The 12 BSN students were placed on interdisciplinary teams, comprised of students representing medicine, physician’s assistants, social work, business, pharmacy and nursing.

VanSchyndel, who teaches population health, said that the students were focused on the social determinants of health that cause patients to be frequent users of the hospital and emergency room. This included things like making sure the patients took their medicine as prescribed, went to their doctor’s appointments, and ate a healthy diet. VanSchyndel said one student taught a patient how to cook eggs, while another got her patient to join the local YMCA. She said she saw growth in the students’ abilities to work on teams with other healthcare professionals.

The program will continue for the 2018.19 school year with six students signed up, VanSchyndel said.