Administration announces $1 billion initiative to provide better health care and lower costs

By Rick Gilfillan, Director, CMS Innovation Center

Bringing down health care costs is a top priority. That’s why the Affordable Care Act contained an historic set of reforms designed to reward higher quality and lower the cost of care.  And we know that the best way to do that is the same way leading health care organizations do it: by making care better and more efficient.

We also know there are great ideas out there that can help push this work forward and that the kinds of innovative practices that make our health care system work better for everybody can come from any corner of the country. That’s why today we’re launching a $1 billion initiative through a second round of Health Care Innovation Awards.

These Innovation Awards will be given to organizations whose creative solutions to our most pressing health care challenges have the potential to serve as models for improving care and lowering costs across the country.

In November of 2011, we launched our first round of Health Care Innovation Awards by issuing a challenge to America’s health care providers, businesses, universities, and community groups.  We asked them to submit their proposals for how to get the most out of our health care dollars by delivering better care. That challenge resulted in more than 3,000 applications, from which a team of independent experts and HHS officials selected 107 promising innovations with the strongest likelihood of creating larger-scale, sustainable results.

And as we kick off round two of the Innovation Awards today, we’re already seeing encouraging results from a number of our round one recipients. The University of Miami, for example, is transforming school-based health clinics into medical homes to serve vulnerable children. These medical homes are connected to community health care providers and these children are already receiving tele-health consults for dermatology, psychiatry, and nutrition along with dental care.

Another recipient, Christiana Care Health Services, has used advanced data analytics to improve preventive care for patients with heart disease. Their comprehensive electronic registry allows providers to more quickly and accurately assess patients’ symptoms and needs based on similar occurrences in the past. This smarter preventive care doesn’t just prevent tragedies before they happen—it also saves money on hospital visits.

As with last year’s awards, we’re seeking out innovative practices that have a high likelihood of delivering better care and lower costs on a national scale.  The last few years have seen us make tremendous strides towards keeping health care spending in check, and a lot of that is thanks to innovations that have helped improve the quality and efficiency of care delivery and payment systems.

Across the country, private and public sector innovators are developing even more great ideas to improve our health care system.  And today’s announcement will allow us to take some of the most promising innovations and put them into action for the benefit of all Americans.  That’s good news for patients, for providers, for our economy, and for the future of American health care.

More information is available at: http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Health-Care-Innovation-Awards/Round-2.

Learn more about the key features of the Affordable Care Act.

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