At the National Center, we know that providing better care for people with complex health and social needs requires providers to radically change how they deliver care. Complex care requires providers to work in interdisciplinary teams, to visit people in their homes, and to use tools and techniques like motivational interviewing, harm reduction, and trauma-informed care.

Most providers never receive the training they will need to provide this kind of care, or to navigate the systems they end up working in. Our Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative aims to change that. The Student Hotspotting program trains interdisciplinary teams of students from programs including medicine, nursing, social work, pharmacy, physical/occupational therapy, business, law, public health, and more, giving them the techniques and practice they need to better care for people with complex health and social needs in their own communities.

So far, about 600 students from 40 schools across the country have been trained as student hotspotters. This year we are scaling the program up with the creation of four Hotspotting Hubs, institutions across the country that will serve as centers of training and mentorship in complex care: Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA; Southern Illinois University in Springfield, IL; University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT; and Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. Throughout September, each Hub held a kickoff event that brought together their 6-12 internal teams with external teams from neighboring schools in their region.

“The hubs are taking ownership,” said Gladys Antello, Program Manager for Relationship Management at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. “We want them to stay true to the Student Hotspotting curriculum and focus, but we also want them to uplift their community and the hard work that the students are doing. The hub model is helping to spread the work of the National Center across the country.”

Student Hotspotting started as a collaboration between the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Primary Care Progress, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. With the launch of the National Center and the Hotspotting Hubs model, the number of collaborating partners has grown to include the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Council on Social Work Education, the National Academies of Practice, and of course, the Hotspotting Hubs themselves.

“Before, our biggest obstacle was travel— our distance from Camden,” said Dr. Tracey Smith, Director of Population Health Integration for Southern Illinois University Medicine. “The Hub model opens up the possibility to have more teams, and is a great opportunity to bring other teams to us, and to connect to neighboring institutions.”

At their kickoff events, each Hotspotting Hub’s internal teams came together with teams from schools throughout their region for an introduction to the program. They got a primer on teaming from Primary Care Progress and the Camden Coalition, and got the chance to meet community stakeholders whose institutions they would be interfacing with throughout the year.

After the kickoff, hotspotting teams will use data to identify individuals with complex health and social needs. If the consumers identified agree to take part in the program, the students will work closely with them to identify their goals and barriers, and to come up with innovative interventions to help them meet their goals. Student Hotspotting teams are supported throughout the program by an in-depth online curriculum on the care principles and techniques they will need, and by regular skills labs and case conferencing calls with complex care experts.

“Students who have graduated have said that this program is probably the most important thing they’ve done in their training,” said Dr. Lauren Collins, Co-director of the Jefferson Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education at Thomas Jefferson University. “There is nothing better than offering a program to our students that might change the trajectory of their career. We’ve been doing interprofessional education for 10 years, and I can’t think of a better way to launch the next decade of our interprofessional work than by being a Student Hotspotting Hub.”