The Playbook: Better Care for People with Complex Needs

December 12, 2016


Five Foundations Release ‘Playbook’ of Best Practices to Improve Care and Lower Costs for Americans Who Face Medical, Behavioral, and Social Challenges New National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs Convenes Experts and Stakeholders to Build a Field of Complex Care

Dec. 9, 2016— A new nationwide survey of patients with complex medical needs shows that the health care system is failing them, with these individuals having far more unmet behavioral health and social service challenges than other adults. While nearly all of the high-need patients surveyed have consistent access to health care (95%), they nevertheless struggle to get the coordinated medical, behavioral, and social services they need to stay well and avoid costly hospital visits. Specifically, they had limited access to: care coordinators, assistance in managing functional limitations, emotional counseling, and transportation services.

The Commonwealth Fund survey of 3,009 adults (1,805 of whom are high-need) is being released as five national health care foundations—The John A. Hartford Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The SCAN Foundation, and The Commonwealth Fund—launch a new online resource to help health system leaders and insurers improve care for patients with complex medical and social needs.

Developed by experts at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, The Playbook: Better Care for People with Complex Needs is an initial effort to compile and share promising approaches. The Playbook offers insights about patients with complex needs, examples of successful approaches to care, guidance on making the business case for these models, and opportunities for policy and payment reform.

The Playbook will be unveiled Friday, December 9, 2016 at the inaugural meeting of the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, led by Jeffrey Brenner, M.D., of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. The new National Center is a first-of-its-kind hub designed to convene and grow an emerging field of experts and stakeholders including providers, health and social service systems, researchers, payers, patient and family advocates, and community leaders. Dr. Brenner, a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award recipient, has been acclaimed for developing approaches to care that meet non-medical needs such as addiction, housing, hunger, and mental health. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and AARP are founding partners of the National Center.

Improving care for patients with complex needs is a strategic focus for an increasing number of health systems—and public and private payers—seeking to improve patient outcomes and lower overall costs of care. Researchers have estimated that although these patients represent just 5 percent of the population, they account for 50 percent of U.S. health care spending.

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