Health Affairs Blog | Envisioning the Future of Complex Care

By Allison Hamblin, Center for Health Care Strategies and Kedar Mate, Institute for Healthcare Improvement


The past 10 years have seen major growth in the field of complex care — a field that aims to better coordinate care and improve outcomes for individuals with complex health and social needs. With a growing evidence base of best practices, and the emergence of supportive payment models following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the number of health care systems and health plans engaged in complex care has expanded dramatically. More recently, the field has seen its first randomized controlled trials; has begun to organize itself around a standardized set of core competencies; and is starting to fill gaps in quality measurement to assess more accurately individual- and program-level impacts.

So, what is the future of complex care? Understanding how to fortify the nation’s complex care infrastructure can help inform the priorities of the Biden-Harris administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. As the leaders of two organizations involved in collaborative efforts to advance the field of complex care, including the Better Care Playbook as well as the 2017 development of the Blueprint for Complex Care alongside the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, we came together to forecast what the next four years might look like and identify opportunities to build a stronger and more effective field of complex care going forward. This list draws from a presentation given last fall at the Camden Coalition's annual National Center conference.

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