Innovation Initiative Spotlight: The Beginning

Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s Innovation Initiative (I2) award comes from inspired beginnings.


We’re all driven by someone or some idea. It’s important to have motivating factors in life to keep you pushing forward, to keep you chugging toward a goal.

AHF is no different. We’re constantly searching for innovators and creatives in the health and wellness space, and we use new and original work as a launching point to develop our own ideas and initiatives for our community.

With our Innovation in Healthcare Conference coming up on March 26, we thought we’d share the inspiration behind our Innovation Initiative award.

Dr. Jeffrey Brenner revolutionized the healthcare delivery system in the early 2000s by utilizing a methodology known as “hotspotting.”

While analyzing medical billing data in his service area of Camden, New Jersey, Dr. Brenner began to create a map of “hot spots” containing the highest percentages of high-cost patients. The patients living in the areas Dr. Brenner mapped were over-utilizing hospital services (he found one patient who went to the hospital 113 times in one year!), racking up massive bills in the process.

To combat this, Dr. Brenner introduced and promoted collaborative care in these regions. He and his team, the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, would coordinate health care services, provide social services, and offer house calls with nurses. Since he knew precisely where and how to target his efforts, Dr. Brenner’s strategy was incredibly effective from the get-go.

Today, this plan has reduced hospital visits and cut healthcare costs in half, simultaneously saving millions of dollars and better serving those in need.

That’s remarkable, and it’s exactly the type of work we draw inspiration from at AHF.

Since its development, Dr. Brenner’s plan has spread across the U.S., including into our own service region here in San Diego.

Funded by United Way, Project 25 is “an innovative collaboration of multiple social service providers in the City of San Diego that targets 35 or more of the chronically homeless most frequent users of emergency room visits, ambulance services, in-patient hospitalizations, mental health out-patient and inpatient services, jail and incarceration costs and detoxification services.”

It’s a form of hotspotting put to use right in our hometown, and it’s an initiative that is spearheaded by 2015 Mission Support Grantee St. Vincent de Paul Village.

Community Information Exchange (CIE) represents a recipient of AHF's I2 grant.2010 AHF Innovation Initiative recipient Community Information Exchange (CIE) also used hotspotting in an effort to improve the efficiency of the healthcare delivery system in San Diego.

A local nonprofit approached CIE after realizing they were the third most frequent pick-up spot for emergency medical services in the area. Their staff members were calling 911–in abundance–from their locale for their clients.

Using data and research, CIE was able to identify why so many people were calling from that organization, and they were then able to revise the previously used emergency protocol. This work drastically reduced the number of outbound 911 calls, cutting costs for EMS and hospitals alike.

As we continue to build toward our Innovation in Healthcare Conference, think about Dr. Brenner’s work, and think about Project 25 and CIE. One idea—a map of healthcare over-utilization rates in this instance—profoundly impacted the way healthcare services are generated and delivered across the entire nation.

Where do you see the need for similar systems change? How can you and your organization advance health and wellness in 2015? No idea is too great, and no goal is too lofty. Dr. Brenner showcased how one small step can snowball into a nationwide movement, and there is no reason we cannot do the same again this year.

We’d love to gather your thoughts in our Marketplace of Ideas at our Innovation in Healthcare Conference to make these dreams a reality.

Let’s do something extraordinary this year.


Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director

Alliance Healthcare Foundation


About Alliance Healthcare Foundation

Alliance Healthcare Foundation is a San Diego-based nonprofit which works with nonprofit, government and community agencies to advance health and wellness throughout the San Diego and Imperial Counties. AHF works to serve the most vulnerable – the poor, working poor, children and homeless by providing grants, advocacy and education to support its region.

To learn more about AHF visit:   AHF on FacebookAHF on LinkedinAHF on Google+AHF on YoutubeAHF on Twitter

To learn more about our grantees visit here: AHF’s Grantee Page 


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