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$347M in CMS Grants to Improve Patient Safety, Care Quality

Sixteen hospital associations, Quality Improvement Organizations, and health systems will receive Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network contracts to improve patient safety and care quality for Medicare beneficiaries.

By Nathan Boroyan

- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is investing $347 million to improve patient safety by reducing the number of hospital-acquired conditions and preventable readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries.

Patient safety and care quality

The funds will be split between 16 Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network (HIIN) contracts, which will support the patient safety and care quality efforts of hospital associations, Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), and health systems.

Announced by CMS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Conway in May, the HIIN program looks to provide support and engagement opportunities for providers, patients, and their caregivers.

“We have made significant progress in keeping patients safe – an estimated 2.1 million fewer patients harmed, 87,000 lives saved, and nearly $20 billion in cost-savings from 2010 to 2014 – and we are focused on accelerating improvement efforts,” said Conway. .

“The work of the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will allow us to continue to improve health care safety across the nation and reduce readmissions at a national scale – keeping people as safe and healthy as possible.”

By 2019, the program aims to reduce instances of patient harm and preventable 30-day readmissions by 20 percent and 12 percent, respectively, from 2014 baseline levels.

HIINs build on the work of existing Hospital Engagement Networks operating under the Partnership for Patients initiative, which set a goal of lowering the number of preventable hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent compared to 2010 levels.

Initial efforts have produced a 17 percent improvement in overall patient safety events and a system-wide savings of $20 billion.  

The new HIINS goal of reducing overall harm by 20 percent is based on the 2014 rate of 121 harms/1000 patients. The hope is to achieve a rate of 97 harms/1000 patients by the end of 2019.

“Patients and families will benefit immensely from the continuation of the Partnership for Patients’ important work, which was begun in the CMS Innovation Center," said Debra L. Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women and Families.

"Innovative approaches to systematically include patients and families in this intensive improvement work have resulted in unprecedented national reductions in harm. We are confident that the more ambitious aims being announced today – and the continued engagement of patients and families in this work – will continue the progress,” Ness added.

HIINs have also been tasked with expanding and developing hospital learning collaboratives, as well as providing a number of patient safety-improving initiatives and activities. HIINs programs will be required to address common negative safety events, including:

  • Adverse drug events related to opioids, anticoagulants, and hypoglycemic agents.
  • Blood stream infections
  • Urinary tract infections associated with catheter use
  • Clostridium difficile infection
  • Immobility and fall-related injuries
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Sepsis and septic shock
  • Surgical infections
  • Venous thromboembolism
  • Ventilator-associated events
  • Readmissions

CMS will monitor and evaluate HIINs activities to ensure results in improving patient safety. The HIINs performance period began in September and will include a 24-month base period, followed by an optional 12-month period.

The 16 hospital associations and organizations receiving funding will collectively work to support 4,000 hospitals across the country.

“America’s hospitals embrace the ambitious new goals CMS has proposed,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA). “The vast majority of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals were involved in the successful pursuit of the initial Partnership for Patients aims."

Pollack added, "Our goal is to get to zero incidents. AHA and our members intend to keep an unrelenting focus on providing better, safer care to our patients—working in close partnership with the federal government and with each other.”

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