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Population Health News

Care Coordination, Quality Projects Win HHS Innovation Awards

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Several collaborative projects focused on improving care coordination and care quality are among the recipients of the 2015 HHS Innovates Awards, Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced this month.  The eighth annual award ceremony, held on June 24, honored seven initiatives focused on developing new strategies to meet broad HHS goals, including transforming care strategies to meet patient safety, satisfaction, and quality goals.

Care coordination and HHS Innovates Awards

“Fostering innovation across the department is critical to effectively addressing the challenges of today and delivering for those we serve,” said Secretary Burwell. “The HHS Innovates Awards Program empowers our teams with the resources they need to drive innovative solutions to deliver on our mission of providing Americans with the building blocks of healthy and productive lives.” 

The winners span a number of areas important to HHS operations, including medical research, food safety, and healthcare practice transformation.

The NIH 3D Print Exchange, awarded “Secretary’s Pick,” has developed an online portal to encourage the exchange of 3D printing files for medical research and scientific applications.  With more than 5000 models available to the public, the project highlights the increasingly important role of 3D printing in precision medicine as researchers create custom-made implantable devices, frameworks to support new cell growth, and even entirely new organs.

The “Employee’s Choice” designation was awarded to a care coordination and quality initiative at the Indian Health Service (IHS) Phoenix Indian Medical Center, which has created a peri-operative surgical home (POSH) for patents with complex surgical needs.  A standardized assessment and planning process encourages representatives from all involved departments to meet and review the care strategy for high-risk patients.  Recommendations and action plans are documented in the hospital’s EHR to ensure care coordination and communication across the team.

After applying the POSH methodology to just 33 patients, IHS has saved more than $200,000 in revenue that may have been lost if the patients had been referred to outside services.  In conjunction with an early mobilization program for patients, the POSH system has produced a 38 percent increase in patients out of bed, officials add.

Another HHS Innovates Award winner is applying care coordination techniques and quality improvement efforts to reduce infant mortality.  The Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) is helping the nation reach its Healthy People 2020 goals of reducing preventable infant deaths by 10 percent by the end of the decade by educating healthcare providers about quality improvement strategies and collaborative learning techniques that can help organizations achieve their goals.

Building on existing health IT infrastructure, CoIIN uses a data analytics dashboard to track progress and provide a virtual workspace for care teams.  After completing a large-scale pilot of the program, CoIIN saw significant reductions in ethnic-based infant mortality disparities as well as a 10 percent or greater decline in mortality in three states.  Additionally, the strategy produced a 30 percent total decline in early elective births and contributed to a 12 percent reduction in the number of women who smoked during pregnancy.

A third project, Linking Health Care and Community Services, is tackling population health management and care coordination for patients who rely on non-medical community services to achieve independent, healthier lives.  The collaborative encourages healthcare providers to enlist the help of public health services and other resources to promote healthier lifestyle choices, safe and reliable transportation to medical appointments, and access to clinical and human services.

The HHS Idea Lab sponsors a number of opportunities that encourage collaboration, care coordination, and medical research across the Department’s areas of interest.  For more information on the Idea Lab, visit the website by clicking here.


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