Interviews explore stories of high-utilization

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Photo L to R: Kathleen Logan, Adrian Wint, Brenda Mathias, and Crystal Ramos

Patterns in patient populations with frequent hospital admissions are typically expressed as numbers — how often they are hospitalized, how costly “avoidable” hospitalizations can be. Every patient also has an individual story, and aggregating and analyzing these stories can reveal important trends and patterns in the populations we serve.

This summer, Dr. Dawn Mautner, a consultant at the Coalition and family physician at Thomas Jefferson University, worked with a team of summer associates from local universities to continue a multi-year research effort to explore and analyze recurring narrative themes of patients with high-utilization.

Dr. Mautner began to spend time with the Coalition’s patients, trying to understand their stories through in-depth interviews in their homes, as part of her master’s thesis project at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar.

Summer associates Crystal Ramos, an MPH student at Drexel University, Adrian Wint, a recent graduate of Temple University, and Kathleen Logan, a senior at Saint Joseph’s University, worked under the direction of Brenda Mathias, a Coalition research assistant, and Maggie Hawthorne, associate director of planning and performance improvement.

The summer associates conducted 14 interviews with former Coalition patients. “These were really personal, unique stories,” Wint said. “You feel privileged because they trusted our care teams, so they trusted us too.”

Questions in the interviews centered around patients’ interactions with our care management teams, their experiences before, during and after hospitalizations, and their relationships with primary care and specialty physicians. Our research team hopes that the results of the interviews will provide further understanding into the the ways patients build trust in their physicians, how medical workers can support their patients, and ways to avoid future hospital readmissions for current patients.

“The interviews give research a more human insight,” Logan explained. “There’s a story behind every person.”

In addition to interviewing, the summer associates began the analytic process by building a codebook for a previous set of patient interviews from 2014 that centered around similar questions, including patients’ history of childhood trauma.

The Coalition plans to continue the project into the next year and publish the findings. Results from analysis of prior patient interviews are available here.

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