Start: May 2013

Funder: Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit


Individuals with complex needs — sometimes referred to as “high-need, high-cost” patients — typically have multiple physical and/or behavioral health conditions, as well as significant social needs. These patients face many challenges to accessing quality health care, including a fragmented system, lack of supports, and misaligned payment structures, which often lead to poorer health outcomes and higher costs. Addressing the social determinants of health is at the center of improving outcomes for this population.

How CHCS is Helping to Advance Complex Care

The Complex Care Innovation Lab, supported by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, is an initiative of the Center for Health Care Strategies that brings together leading national innovators in improving care for this high-need, high-cost population. Working together, these national leaders are seeking to:

  1. Advance emerging opportunities to improve outcomes for low-income individuals with complex health and social needs;
  2. Contribute to the evidence base regarding how to successfully build, operate, and evaluate complex care programs; and
  3. Be a leading source of policy recommendations to sustain effective models and spur new approaches, particularly in the context of broader health care payment and delivery system reforms.

Below are links to learn about the 14 participating organizations:

Current Innovation Lab activities focus on five key priorities: (1) core model principles; (2) cross-sector collaboration and community engagement; (3) data and evaluation; (4) policy and financing; and (5) upstream interventions to prevent future high utilization. Through in-person meetings, peer-to-peer exchanges, pilots and analyses, participants are examining persistent challenges for each of these issues; identifying tools, concepts, and perspectives from multiple sectors; and developing new approaches for improving care for populations with complex needs. Lessons from the Innovation Lab are shared broadly to inform best practices and encourage further innovations in the field of complex care.

The creation of the Innovation Lab stemmed from CHCS’ earlier Kaiser Permanente-funded work in the Medicaid Value Program and the Rethinking Care Program, both national initiatives that sought to identify innovative models of care delivery for Medicaid recipients with complex needs. The Innovation Lab has also spurred the creation of additional CHCS programs to accelerate promising practices in the field of complex care, including Advancing Trauma-Informed Care, Transforming Complex Care, the New York Health Homes Learning Collaborative, among others.