Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data


CMS Focuses on Patient Safety with Hospital Improvement Plan

The newly announced Hospital Improvement Innovation Network will prioritize patient safety in the inpatient setting, CMS says.

By Jennifer Bresnick

CMS has overseen a number of significant patient safety improvements in the past few years, but the agency isn’t finished with its efforts to reduce preventable patient harm.  

Patient safety and hospital quality improvement

In a CMS blog post today, Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, announced the first steps towards creating a new Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN) program that will provide support and engagement opportunities for providers, patients, and their caregivers.

Following a December report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that noted a 39 percent drop in preventable patient harm since 2010, Conway hopes to continue the “unprecedented” momentum generated by greater attention to best practices for patient safety in the hospital setting.

“This has resulted in 2.1 million fewer patients harmed, 87,000 lives saved, and nearly $20 billion in cost-savings from 2010 to 2014,” Conway wrote. “The nation has also made substantial progress in reducing 30-day hospital readmissions.”

“I have been working in the field of quality improvement for 20 years,” he continued, “and I have never before seen results such as these. This work, though, is far from done, and it is imperative that we sustain and strengthen efforts to address patient safety problems, such as central line infections and hospital readmissions.”

The HIIN program, which will be a part of the existing Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) initiative, will “tap into the deep experience, capabilities and impact of QIOs, hospital associations, hospital systems, and national hospital affinity organizations with extensive experience in hospital quality improvement,” Conway said.

The new networks will further the work of the seventeen Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs) that operate under the Partnership for Patients initiative, which has set the goal of reducing preventable hospital acquired conditions (HACs) by 40 percent compared to 2010 levels and streamlining transitions of care to slash unintended complications.

Organizations that wish to become HIINs will have the opportunity to compete for multiple awards to support improvements across eleven recognized patient safety domains, including adverse drug events, bloodstream and urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, fall, sepsis, surgical site infections, preventable readmissions, and Clostridium difficile infections.

HIIN organizations must be “committed to fostering a culture of safety and reducing harm,” according to the announcement of the upcoming Request for Proposals published on, and will provide technical and implementation support to local hospitals, providers, and other caregivers as they embrace best practices for patient care.  

“Such technical assistance may include establishing learning collaboratives, developing data sharing networks, developing mechanisms to support peer-to-peer training among hospitals, conducting conference calls, webinars, and site visits to participating hospitals,” the document states.

CMS hopes that by 2019, the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will achieve a 20 percent decrease in overall instances of patient harm and a 12 percent reduction in preventable 30-day readmissions in relation to 2014 benchmarks.

In addition to providing technical aid and disseminating best practices for patient safety, HIINs will likely be required to recruit the majority of acute care organizations into active participation in quality improvement efforts.  While CMS would like to see 100 percent of acute care facilities committed to the cause, the agency has set the initial goal at 4000 inpatient participants.

HIINs will also be asked to help their participants collect quality data and report on metrics that track performance improvements.  This reporting may follow the same guidelines as used by existing Hospital Engagement Networks, and should be conducted on a monthly basis.  

“The procurement for the HIINs will be a full and open competition, and CMS encourages all interested parties to submit a proposal that will continue to build on the successes achieved so far,” Conway said.

“Organizations who were a HEN in the first and second rounds of the Partnership for Patients or QIOs and other organizations that meet the RFP criteria are welcome to submit a proposal for the HIIN opportunity, but will compete for selection against all other organizations submitting proposals.”

The full Request for Proposals will be available in June, CMS says, and interested parties will have 30 days from the publication of the document to submit their applications.  Awards are anticipated to be finalized no later than September 30, 2016.  

For more information on the Hospital Improvement Innovation Network program, please click here.

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