Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Student initiative cools down cost hot spots

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Emory students in nursing, medicine, public health, and law have banded together to try to curb health care costs at Grady Memorial Hospital. All are participants in the Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative in Atlanta, an affiliate of a national initiative founded by the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers in New Jersey.

The Emory students work in teams to target the medically and socially complex patients who constitute 5 percent of Grady patients but account for 50 percent of its health care costs—the “hot spots.” The teams aim to cool down those spots, but not by providing medical care or advice. Instead, they help patients manage their conditions to keep them out of the emergency room and the hospital. Students visit patients in their homes, or, if they are homeless, wherever they can. They also accompany patients to doctor’s appointments.

“We try to find out what they need to keep their condition stable,” says Michael Arenson 12G 19M, a fourth-year medical student who helped bring the hotspotting initiative to Atlanta. “Sometimes that means making sure they are taking their meds correctly or that there is not a significant amount of mold in their house. It also means supporting them to get an ID that they need for a job. We don’t do it for them. The whole idea is to help them become self-sufficient.”

Arenson worked with Colin McNamara 17N 18MSN, now a family nurse practitioner graduate, and three other students to lay the groundwork for the initiative in 2017–2018. This year, the initiative has 32 students in eight disciplines from Emory, Georgia State University, Mercer University College of Pharmacy, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Their work is sponsored by a seed grant provided through a partnership of the Emory/Georgia Tech Healthcare Innovation Program, the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance, and Georgia State. Emory’s Primary Care Consortium and the School of Nursing provided additional support.

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