Background: In the United States, 5% of the population use half of the annual spending for health care services and 1% account for approximately a quarter of annual spending, considered “superutilizers” of U.S. health care services. The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (the Coalition) developed a model using hospital admission data to identify superutilizers, termed “hotspotting,” which has gained national recognition. Unlike other similar programs, this model targets a more diverse population with higher utilization than other programs that have been studied.
Study design: Randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: Two hospitals in Camden, N.J., from June 2, 2014, to March 31, 2018.
Synopsis: Eight-hundred superutilizers (at least one hospital admission at any of the four Camden-area hospital systems in the past 6 months, greater than one chronic medical condition, more than one high-risk traits/conditions) were randomly assigned to the intervention group or usual care. Once enrolled in the hospital, a multidisciplinary team began working with the patient in the intervention group on discharge. Team members conducted home visits, scheduled/took patients to appointments, managed medications, monitored and coached patients in disease-specific self-care, and assisted with applying for social and other assistive programs.
The readmission rate within 180 days after hospital discharge (primary outcome) between groups was not significant, with 62.3% readmitted in the intervention group and 61.7% in the control group. There was also no effect on the defined secondary outcomes (number of readmissions, proportion of patients with more than two readmissions, hospital days, charges, payments received, mortality).
The trial was not powered to detect smaller reductions in readmissions or to analyze effects within specific subgroups.
Bottom line: The addition of the Coalition’s program to patients with very high use of health care services did not decrease hospital readmission rate when compared to usual care.
Citation: Finkelstein A et al. Health care hotspotting – a randomized, controlled trial. N Engl J Med. 2020;382:152-62.
Dr. Trammell-Velasquez is a hospitalist and associate professor of medicine at University of Texas Health, San Antonio.