Serious Illness Strategies: Driving Value in High-Need Populations

Implementation Tool
February 2022


This guide describes key strategies for health plans, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and health systems to improve care for people with serious illness.


Adults living with serious illness are at risk for unnecessary suffering and health care utilization that could potentially be avoided. Balancing quality of care with cost-effectiveness of care for this population is top of mind for health care organizations, health plans, and accountable care organizations. This resource describes key strategies and provides a summary of resources related to improving care and reducing costs for people with serious illness.

About this Tool

The three key strategies for health care organizations include: (1) proactively identifying patients with serious illness; (2) engaging these individuals and assessing their needs; and (3) providing home-based supports to avoid excessive use of emergency services. An additional strategy noted for payers is using training and quality incentives to improve palliative care capabilities and outcomes. The guide highlights practical action steps, tips from other organizations, and other tools and resources related to these strategies that can help organizations with implementation.


Health plans, ACOs, and health systems can use this resource to improve serious illness care and address health care spending for people with serious illness.

Posted to The Playbook on