CMS awards $347M to aid patient safety, cut hospital readmissions

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has awarded $347 million to 16 organizations to reduce preventable hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions on a national scale.

Under the newly launched Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network contracts, CMS is hoping to continue the progress that has been made during the past few years in keeping patients safe.

“Since 2010, we have seen an unprecedented reduction in preventable patient harm at hospitals across the United States,” Patrick Conway, MD, CMS acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer, told reporters on Thursday. “This performance has resulted in an estimated 2.1 million fewer patients harmed by adverse events and infections, 87,000 lives saved, and nearly $20 billion in cost-savings from 2010 to 2014. We are committed to making even greater progress.”

Efforts to hit these goals are increasingly relying on information technology to improve communications and data sharing, as well as enable the use of predictive analytics.

According to Conway, CMS has established even more ambitious goals for the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks. Building on the success of the Hospital Engagement Networks and Quality Improvement Organizations, he said the creation of the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will work to expand and develop learning collaboratives for hospitals and provide a wide array of initiatives and activities to improve patient safety in the Medicare program.

“Through 2019, these Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will commit to and pursue new national aims to achieve an additional 20 percent decrease in overall patient harm and a 12 percent reduction in 30-day hospital readmissions,” said Conway. “The establishment of these ambitious, challenging new goals raises the bar for improvements in patient safety and readmissions over the next three years.”

The 16 organizations awarded Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network contracts include national, regional and state hospital associations, as well as quality improvement organizations and health systems:

  • Carolinas Healthcare System
  • Dignity Health
  • Healthcare Association of New York State
  • HealthInsight
  • The Health Research and Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association
  • Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey
  • Health Services Advisory Group
  • The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania
  • Iowa Healthcare Collaborative
  • Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Health Foundation
  • Minnesota Hospital Association
  • Ohio Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety
  • Ohio Hospital Association
  • Premier Inc.
  • Vizient Inc.
  • Washington State Hospital Association

The Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will support approximately 4,000 hospitals. According to CMS, the HIINs will establish and implement a system to track and monitor all hospital progress towards the operational and quality improvement goals.
“To support hospital submission of measurement data, the HIINs are required to utilize their existing systems to collect, track, and monitor hospital quality data, including the receipt, collection, and analysis of quality improvement metrics from participating hospitals,” stated the agency. “Through these existing systems, the HIINs will have access to hospitals’ measurement data, and will use that information to evaluate progress and focus attention on efforts or hospitals that have yet to see improvement.”

Conway added that health information technology such as electronic health record systems is important for decreasing preventable patient harm and hospital readmissions.

Also See: EHRs credited for increase in hospital patient safety

“Computerized physician order entry, for example, can help identify medication interactions and proper dosages which can be significant in preventing medication errors,” he said. “In addition, electronic health records—when we share information between providers—can improve care coordination and prevent patient harm.”

Hospitals are also integrating patient monitors with EHRs to analyze the data to predict which patients’ health conditions might be deteriorating due to infection or other medical issues so that clinicians can intervene, Conway concluded. “Those are a few examples where health IT can enable more coordinated, safer care.”

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