A Needs Assessment Pilot Study of Patients with High Utilization in an Academic Inpatient Setting


Alexander S. Roseman, M.D.1*, Hannah Thompson, M.D.1, Audrey Jiang, BS1, Lisa Obasi, BA1, Andrew M. Pattock, BS1, Jamie P. Schlarbaum, BS1, Daniel R. Wells, BS1, Andrew P.J. Olson, M.D.2,3

Author Affiliations:

1University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA
2Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA
3Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA

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*Corresponding Author: Alexander S. Roseman; alexander.rosemanMD@baystatehealth.org

Key Words: needs assessment; high utilization; super utilizers; high utilizers; academic medical centers


Background: A disproportionate amount of health care spending in the United States is attributed to a small subset of patients who employ inpatient and emergency department (ED) services. While patients with high ED utilization have previously been well- described, patients seen in an inpatient academic medical setting may differ with regard to demographics, medical conditions, and social factors.

Objectives: We aimed to characterize patients with high utilization in an academic inpatient setting for the purpose of identifying unmet needs.

Setting and Patients: Adults aged 18–80 were eligible for inclusion if they had more than three admissions to a general medicine service of an academic medical center within a large health care system. Patients who were admitted for pregnancy, oncology, trauma, or surgical procedures for acute conditions or were diagnosed with dementia or encephalopathy were excluded. Twenty-six patients met inclusion/exclusion criteria and were approached to be interviewed, of which 13 agreed to be interviewed. Measurements: Face-to-face administration of a self-reported survey assessing unmet needs regarding services for medical or mental health needs, access to health care, housing, transportation, or legal services, and any other barriers to health the respondent identified.

Results: All of those surveyed had health insurance and regular visits with primary care providers (mean 14 visits per 12 months). The most prevalent medical conditions identified were depression (85%) and chronic pain (77%). In addition, patients self-identified having an average of 2.2 chronic conditions. Financial struggles were common as 62% of the respondents reported annual incomes of <$12,000, and 77% were unemployed over the previous 12 months.

Conclusion: These results indicate unique clinical and social characteristics associated with high readmission rates at one academic medical center, suggesting the need for additional patient-centered research of this population to aid in the development of novel strategies to reduce over-utilization and improve health.

Published: Spring, 2019


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