Organizations Provide $8.7 Million to Launch a National Center to Improve Care for Individuals with Complex Health Needs

Building the complex care field

March 8, 2016

National center will help communities to improve care for patients with complex needs

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 healthcare 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 healthcare delivery that lower costs and improve care for patients who are overwhelmed by the challenges of navigating the complexity of the American healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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

Statements from Founding Partners

“It’s been said that the true test of a society is the way that it cares for its most disadvantaged members and our healthcare system has all too often failed that challenge. By identifying those with the highest healthcare needs and expanding access to clinical and social services, the Camden Coalition puts this platitude into practice, strengthening not only the health of our most vulnerable but our society as a whole.” –Maryann Jacob Macias, Associate Program Executive The Atlantic Philanthropies

“To better address the needs of complex patients, we need to build bridges between public health, healthcare, and social service agencies. Ensuring that every American receives the medical and social support they need is critical to building a Culture of Health.” –Susan Mende, Senior Program Officer Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

“Instead of keeping the most vulnerable patients well, fragmented care and poor transitions often force patients to seek intensive emergency care—which is draining for patients and caregivers alike. This work will help change the way we think about aging.” –Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President and Director AARP

About the Camden Coalition for Healthcare Providers

The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (Camden Coalition) is a citywide coalition of over 25 hospitals, primary care providers and community organizations working together to deliver better healthcare to vulnerable citizens in Camden, NJ. Founded by Dr. Jeffrey Brenner in 2002, the Coalition knits together a fragmented healthcare system for patients with complex needs and repeated, ineffective and expensive hospitalizations, using smart data and holistic, multi-disciplinary team care. We believe if we can deliver better care at lower cost here in Camden, it can be done for everyone, everywhere in America.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin;; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at

About The Atlantic Philanthropies

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to advancing opportunity, equity and human dignity. Established in 1982, when Chuck Feeney quietly committed virtually all of his assets to the foundation, Atlantic has since made grants approaching $8 billion. In keeping with Mr. Feeney’s “Giving While Living,” big-bet philosophy, Atlantic invests in systemic change to accelerate improvements in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The foundation, which has operated in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam, will complete all grantmaking in 2016 and conclude operations shortly afterward.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Since 2005, RWJF has invested in better approaches to improve the value of integrated care for people with complex medical and social needs who account for a disproportionate share of healthcare costs. Key partners in this work include Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and the National Governors Association, the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, and the Center for Health Care Strategies. For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and healthcare. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

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