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As coalition plans national center, leader elaborates on helping high-need patients

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“This is about the idea that there is an emerging field, to train future generations on how to work with data sets. This is like the earliest days of cancer treatment or HIV treatment,” said Dr. Jeffrey Brenner.

The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, led by Brenner, has announced plans to establish a national center, funded by $8.7 million from AARP, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The center would help improve care for high-need patients who experience poor outcomes despite extreme patterns of hospitalizations or emergency care, continuing the coalition’s decade and more of work.

“There are examples going on in rural, urban and other areas all over the country. It’s an informal network now. I’d say this is a burgeoning filed and … there is not a professional home for it. There isn’t even a conference for it; I don’t know what conference to attend,” Brenner said.

So in December this year, there will be a conference, as part of plans for the national center. Though there is no physical home for the center, the use of technology is facilitating growth and establishing the network, Brenner said.

The coalition is collaborating and sharing ideas with projects in Alaska, New York state, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Denver, just to name a few.

“There is a great project we are enamored with in Pennsylvania where they have not only lowered the costs of care but reduced mortality in 80-year-olds by 49 percent,” Brenner said.

Dr. Jeffrey Brenner of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
Dr. Jeffrey Brenner of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. - ()

His goal is to help fix the approach to health care as the industry continues to transform.

“There is a payment problem, training problem and a care delivery problem,” Brenner said. “It’s time for us to get beyond organs and stand back and think about people, and their families and their community, and how to deliver care.”

That includes avoiding assumptions stemming from the socioeconomic status or education level of a patient, as well as training doctors old and new to integrate mental health factors and environmental triggers to give a more holistic view of a patient’s life.

The ineffective care of some of these individuals has been a focus of Brenner’s work, which has garnered national attention, for more than a decade. The coalition has gotten the city’s hospitals, health care professionals, social service agencies and even local law enforcement and public safety officials involved in improving the medical care of the city’s sickest people.

“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.”

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