Published by the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers

CAMDEN, NJ—The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers today announced plans to establish a national center to improve care for high-need patients who experience poor outcomes despite extreme patterns of hospitalizations or emergency care. Inefficient and ineffective care of these patients has been identified as a driver of unnecessary health care spending in the United States. AARP, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are collectively providing $8.7 million to fund the center.

The Camden Coalition has been a leader in identifying these patients and working to improve their care through coordinated, data-driven, and patient-centered approaches—including addressing needs that have traditionally been considered “nonmedical,” such as addiction, housing, transportation, hunger, mental health, and emotional and educational support. The national center will bring together practitioners working with these patients around the country and serve as a hub to unite and advance the nascent field.

“Across the country, innovators are developing new models of health care delivery that lower costs and improve care for patients who are overwhelmed by the challenges of navigating the complexity of the American health care system,” said Jeffrey Brenner, MD, executive director of the Camden Coalition. “By developing a professional home for those who are involved in this rapidly growing field, we hope to bring disparate efforts together to improve the research base, share emerging ideas, and inspire the next generation of health care providers.”

The Camden Coalition’s approach began to gain national attention more than a decade ago when Brenner found that 20 percent of patients accounted for 80 percent of hospital costs in Camden, NJ, due to disorganized care. One patient, for instance, had been to the emergency department 113 times in a single year; another made 324 emergency visits over the course of five years. Brenner and his colleagues discovered that identifying these patients, improving transitions from the hospital back to their homes, and providing much-needed medical and social support, could reduce costly hospital visits and improve patients’ overall wellness.

Based on early successes, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided anchor funding to establish and develop the field over several years, and is now joined by AARP and The Atlantic Philanthropies as founding partners in the new national center. Their funding to the Camden Coalition will help develop and launch the national center of excellence and house a scholar-in-residence to enhance an evidence base.

The Camden Coalition recently launched a new website with informational and education resources drawn from its work treating complex patients. During this inaugural year, the Coalition will solicit significant input from innovators and stakeholders from around the country to inform the center’s development.

“We have a generation of work to do in order to address the mismatch between the health care system’s service delivery model and the needs of patients with complex medical, behavioral, and social needs,” said Brenner. “With 85 million baby boomers in the midst of retiring and state budgets facing ever growing costs from Medicaid, it’s crucial that we rethink our care delivery models for the sickest and most complex patients. We’re building a new field and a movement for better care one patient and one community at a time.”

For more information about the national center, or to learn more about the field of treating high-cost, high-needs patients, visit