Complex Care Certificate Trains Inter-Professional Teams and Strengthens Ecosystem of Care for Vulnerable People with Complex Health and Social Needs

Updated on January 21, 2024

The Camden Coalition’s recently-launched comprehensive Complex Care Certificate – generating significant interest among health systems and social service groups and already licensed for use by several leading organizations – is the first scalable training of its scope and depth to provide practitioners with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to deliver care to people with complex health and social needs. 

The curriculum arrives just in time as new requirements are coming online for healthcare organizations to screen patients for health-related social needs (HRSN) and to navigate them to and pay for services that address those needs. These federal and state level mandates and opportunities are accelerating a transformation in care delivery toward more team-based, person-centered, and equitable care.

The Complex Care Certificate will position health and social care teams to meet these new standards. 

“To build a robust ecosystem of care for individuals with complex health and social needs, we need diverse, interdisciplinary teams that have a common understanding of best practices, as well as the skills needed to deliver high quality, person-centered care,” said Kathleen Noonan, President and CEO of the Camden Coalition. “This curriculum is an important investment for health care leaders that want to meet new national requirements and raise the know-how of their teams working in complex care.  

“The Complex Care Certificate fills an immediate and pressing need for teams serving Medicaid recipients at both health plans and safety net organizations as we navigate new requirements for addressing health-related social needs and providing person-centered care,” said Amanda Flaum, Vice President of Medicaid at Kaiser Permanente in California and Hawaii. “We are thrilled to be making the Certificate available to 2,000 community partners working in interprofessional teams in California safety net healthcare organizations.”

“Our country has finally recognized that we have a health equity problem,” said Kedar Mate, MD, President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “The good news is that our federal agencies, state governments, and healthcare payers and providers are moving decisively to address it. We need a workforce equipped to provide person-centered, culturally competent, comprehensive health and social care to communities that have faced decades and centuries of neglect.”

Built on a set of core competencies for frontline providers developed by the Camden Coalition and a committee of national experts, the Complex Care Certificate consists of nine self-paced online courses that teach interdisciplinary complex care teams how to engage with people with complex health and social needs and help them reach their goals. The courses incorporate the experience not only of leading professionals in the field – nurses, social workers, community health workers, case managers and doctors – but of people with lived experience who have had to navigate fragmented systems to access care that addresses their complex health and social needs. 

Among the teams that will be using the new Certificate, which was officially launched in November, are:

  • Interdisciplinary care teams in California safety net hospitals, community health centers, and other healthcare organizations.
  • Social work and community health teams at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Primary care teams at Cooper University Health Care’s Urban Health Institute in Camden, New Jersey.
  • Frontline behavioral health providers at Oaks Integrated Care, a statewide Certified Community Behavioral Health Center in New Jersey.

These teams and others across the country are responding to federal and state level efforts to improve health equity by addressing health related social needs, particularly for historically marginalized populations. These efforts include the Biden Administration’s recent call to action and playbook to address SDOHnew national Medicare reimbursement of screening and navigation for HRSN, and major Medicaid demonstration projects in states like CaliforniaMassachusettsNew Jersey, and New York that pay for non-medical services such as housing, meals, and care navigation. A number of national accountability standards, including CMS’s Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System, NCQA’s HEDIS standards, and the Joint Commission’s accreditation standards, are now requiring healthcare organizations to screen for HRSN and navigate patients to appropriate services.

To meet this need, many organizations are hiring community health workers and navigators that come with a passion for connecting community members to care but limited background in healthcare. They also need to retrain existing staff to provide new types of care and work collaboratively in new ways. The Complex Care Certificate is designed to give teams the tools they need to thrive in this new reality.

“Incorporating this type of complex care training into a team’s ongoing professional education can transform how they deliver care to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and some of the most challenging cases our healthcare and social services systems face,” said Renee Murray, RN, BSN, Director of Education and Training at the Camden Coalition. “This curriculum is already proving valuable for organizations that piloted it during its development and those that are beginning to use it now.”

Among the courses offered as part of the Complex Care Certificate are:

  • Introduction to complex health and social needs — understanding and addressing the overlapping physical and behavioral health conditions and social barriers that people face.
  • Relationship-building in complex care – how to build sustainable and authentic healing relationships with patients, while also setting boundaries and practicing self-care.
  • Power and oppression in complex care – identifying these factors and ways in which personal privilege can be responsibly used to advocate for individuals in need.
  • Trauma-informed complex care – understanding the roots, impacts and experiences that comprise trauma and how to interact with others to reduce trauma and trauma responses.
  • Harm reduction in complex care – its origins, how to practice it and how to adopt those practices across an organization.
  • Motivational interviewing in complex care — how to resolve ambivalence and support behavior change.
  • Care planning in complex care – the spirit and process of care planning in partnership with the patient to prioritize a patient’s goals and vision for their life.
  • Complex care delivery – how to communicate with patients, families, and colleagues in a person-centered way and how to support patients in reaching their goals.
  • Collaboration and communication in complex care teams – cultivating authentic healing relationships with team members, overcoming conflict, and managing feedback.

The Certificate also includes team activities and an optional capstone “systems change project” – an interactive process that supports learners in identifying and implementing change in their teams, organizations, or communities.

About Camden Coalition

The Camden Coalition works to improve care for people with complex health and social needs in Camden, NJ, and across the country. The organization implements person-centered programs and pilots new models that address chronic illness and social barriers to health and well-being. Supported by a robust data infrastructure, cross-sector convening, and shared learning, its community-based programs improve outcomes for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. The Camden Coalition’s National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs connects complex care practitioners with each other and with data, tools, and other resources. For more information, visit www.camdenhealth.org.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.