The Blueprint for Complex Care is complete: after a whirlwind year of research, interviews, surveys, writing, and re-writing with our partners at the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), the strategic plan for the field of complex care will be unveiled in December at Putting Care at the Center 2018, the only conference on complex care in America.

The finished document provides a shared definition for the field of complex care, clarity around the population we serve, an assessment of the field’s current strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations for how we can collectively advance the field.

The National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs was launched in 2016 to be a professional home for the emerging field of complex care, but it was clear from the beginning that the work of building the field could not be done by one organization or initiative alone. After our first national conference in 2016 brought together almost 500 complex care innovators from organizations across the country, we realized there was an urgent need to coordinate the exciting work being done across the country and to build capacity to identify, accelerate, and scale best practices.

We also realized that the field of complex care’s need for collective strategy wasn’t totally unique. There is existing theory and practice around the maturation of new fields. Other recently developed fields had been where we are now, and have grown to have significant impact on the national healthcare landscape. Palliative care is one example, and as we worked with CHCS and IHI to conceptualize the Blueprint, we leaned on the mentorship of people like Diane Meier, founder and director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). The Bridgespan Group’s Strong Field Framework provides the foundational structure for the Blueprint.

The Blueprint was first introduced as a concept at last year’s Putting Care at the Center conference in Los Angeles, where we asked attendees to draw up their own blueprints with their thoughts on the core tenets of complex care, the biggest challenges they have experienced, priority areas of focus, goals, and who they think is missing from the conversation.

Over the next year, we interviewed dozens of leaders in complex care and closely related fields, including consumers and care team members. We collected hundreds of survey responses from people doing the work on the ground, and held an expert convening where leaders of organizations doing complex care were asked for their input on key questions within the field. It was important to us to ensure that the process of creating the Blueprint was inclusive, collaborative, and transparent, and that you, our colleagues across the country, would be able to see yourselves, your work, and your priorities in the finished document.

We hope that everyone working to improve care for individuals with complex health and social needs will be able to use the Blueprint to better understand how their work fits into the larger field of complex care. One of the concepts that the Blueprint introduces is that of a complex care ecosystem: a local network of organizations from different sectors, fields, and professions that collaborate to serve individuals with complex health and social needs. We hope to see new complex care ecosystems form and existing ones become stronger in communities across the country.

We also want the Blueprint for Complex Care to serve as an introduction to and touchstone for the field for the thousands of individuals who are working to improve care for people with complex health and social needs but haven’t yet recognized themselves as part of the field. We will only be able to make real, systemic changes to our country’s care systems if we are able to act collectively and build upon each others’ innovations. That begins with ensuring that information about the field is broadly disseminated, and you can help by sharing the Blueprint broadly among your networks.

Many of the recommendations will take working groups or committees of experts to activate and implement. We hope you’ll nominate yourself or your colleagues to help us collectively tackle issues like identifying research priorities, developing quality measures, investing in consumer leadership, and more.

Finally, we hope you’ll join us at Putting Care at the Center 2018 in Chicago December 5-7, where we’ll unveil the Blueprint and ask you to tell us which of the priorities for the field you find most urgent. Join us in the Beehive to tell us what you are already doing and what you’re interested in working on. We’re also looking for organizations who are willing to sign on as Complex Care Champions and commit to supporting the Blueprint’s recommendations and sharing the document with individuals and organizations in their networks.

Interested in becoming a Complex Care Champion? Contact Maria Velasquez at [email protected] or come to the conference to learn more.