Increased attention to children with medical complexity has occurred because these children are growing in number, consume a disproportionate share of health-system costs, and require policy and programmatic interventions that differ in many ways from the broader group of children with special health care needs. But will this focus on complex care lead to meaningful changes in systems of care and outcomes for children with serious chronic diseases?
As health care and financing systems become more sophisticated, health care systems are increasingly using a process known as "risk tiering" to group patients with similar degrees of need for health care and care coordination services. Payers are becoming part of this conversation, which for children is in its very early stages. Families and care providers of children with chronic and complex conditions should understand the risk tiering process, as it may affect access to services these children need. This February 28 conversation describes current tiering practices and uses, and makes recommendations for policy and research, particularly as the process relates to children with special health care needs.
The health and well-being of our most vulnerable of children, especially developing children and children with complex health care needs, are sentinel indicators of the effectiveness of the systems on which they depend. The latest issue of the Pediatrics supplement: “Building Systems that Work for Children with Complex Health Care Needs,” sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, helps to clarify some of the difficult, systemic issues and challenges affecting health care for these children, and point the way toward their resolution.