Hot spots: Camden, NJ and Saskatoon, SK

Station 20 West building in Saskatoon, SK which opened recently despite a funding cut. (CBC)

Station 20 West building in Saskatoon, SK which opened recently despite a funding cut. (CBC)


This week on White Coat, Black Art we're homing in on medical hotspots. It's an idea that began in Camden, New Jersey when Dr. Jeffrey Brenner  and his team began mining data to figure out which areas of the city used the health care system the most. He called the areas "hot spots." Dr. Brenner told WCBA he found out that in some cases single patients visit the emergency room hundreds of times a year. For the past 10 years, he's been using the hot spot data to find ways to better serve those people and lower health care costs. He calls the new model of health care -- which might involve house calls and clinics right inside "hot spot" buildings  -- disruptive change.  Then, Brian visits a Canadian medical hotspot in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and finds out about the disruptive change taking place there.

The west side of Saskatoon has the highest rate of new HIV cases in the country, and higher-than-average rates of diabetes, depression, addiction, sexually transmitted diseases and hepatitis C. Its infant mortality rate is higher than in war-torn Bosnia. People there also visit the emergency room as a means of getting basic health care. But change is afoot there as well. A new community centre called Station 20 West is up and running after a long battle for funding. It has brought a healthy food store back to the area after big grocers pulled out years ago, gives support to new mothers and helps those looking for homes and job,  among other services. And a few blocks away, a student-run health clinic called SWITCH welcomes patients after hours and on Saturdays, and gives them much more than a quick patch-up. They have access to not only a doctor, but a volunteer team of students studying physiotherapy, pharmacy, psychology, social work, alternative health and more. They'll even help kids with homework and hand out diapers and formula if needed. In fact, some -- like Jeffrey Brenner -- say this "whole person" approach to care may be a model for how to get some of our neediest patients well, while saving the health care system and taxpayers a whole lot of money.

Bonus Links:

Station 20 West opens - CBC News report -

Dr. Jeffrey Brenner's TEDxBigApple talk -

"The Hot Spotters" - New York Magazine, Jan, 2011 -

"A Healthy Society" - Dr. Ryan Meili's TEDxRegina talk from May, 2012 :

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