California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals in California Use Data Mapping To Identify ‘Super-Users’

An increasing number of California hospitals are using data mapping to identify health care "super-users" in an effort to target the needs of such individuals and increase care efficiency, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.


According to the Chronicle, a small fraction of patients account for a large percentage of admissions at many hospitals, which can be costly to health systems (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/4).

Such patients tend to be individuals with serious chronic conditions, such as heart failure, diabetes, kidney disease or mental health issues.

Super-users typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Medicare beneficiaries who have difficulty affording the medicines they need to control their conditions;
  • Dual eligibles who qualify for Medicaid and Medicare and tend to shift between emergency departments for treatment for medical conditions tied to substance misuse or homelessness; or
  • Individuals who have private insurance (California Healthline, 10/8/13).

Details of Data Mapping Efforts

Some California organizations have begun "hot spotting" to find patterns in patient admissions data and determine the proper resources to support such consumers in hopes of decreasing their hospital visits.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Berkeley -- in a partnership with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers -- will join five other hospitals nationwide as part of an advisory committee on "hot spotting."

Committee founder Jeffery Brenner said the group advocates a more personalized approach to deter chronic hospital goers.

In addition, similar initiatives aimed at reducing the number of super-users have been implemented at several other hospitals across California, including:

  • Alameda Health System, and
  • San Francisco General Hospital.
Advocates have said such programs are becoming more widespread in part because of incentives under the Affordable Care Act for hospitals to improve care quality and reduce costs (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/4). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.