Continuing to improve patient safety in hospitals

By Patrick Conway, Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and CMS Chief Medical Officer

Recently, a Department of Health and Human Services report showed that an estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.

This progress toward a safer health care system occurred during a period of concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events. These efforts were also due in part to provisions of the Affordable Care Act such as Medicare payment incentives to improve the quality of care and the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative. The Partnership for Patients, an initiative growing out of the Affordable Care Act, is a nation-wide public-private collaboration that began in April 2011 with two main goals: reduce preventable hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and 30-day readmissions by 20 percent.

Since the Partnership for Patients was launched, the vast majority of U.S. hospitals and many other stakeholders have joined the collaborative effort and delivered results. Nationally, we are improving patient safety, resulting in 1.3 million adverse events and infections avoided in hospitals since 2010. This translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period.

We are committed to making even greater progress keeping people as safe and healthy as possible. That is why we are launching a second round of Hospital Engagement Network contracts to continue reducing preventable hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions.

The Hospital Engagement Network funding will be available to award contracts to national, regional or state hospital associations, large health care organizations that hold corporate ownership and operational control of a group of hospitals that consist of at least 25 hospitals, or national affinity organizations that will support hospitals in the efforts to reduce preventable hospital acquired conditions and readmissions.

The Partnership for Patients and the Hospital Engagement Networks are one part of an overall effort to deliver better care, spend dollars more wisely, and improve health through the Affordable Care Act. Initiatives like the Partnership for Patients, Accountable Care Organizations, Quality Improvement Organizations, and others have helped reduce hospital readmissions in Medicare by nearly 8 percent between January 2012 and December 2013 – translating into 150,000 fewer readmissions – in addition to quality improvements mentioned above.

And last month, HHS announced a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional, or fee-for-service, Medicare payments to quality or value through alternative payment models, such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) or bundled payment arrangements by the end of 2016, and tying 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018.

More information about the Hospital Engagement Network solicitation may be found at

CMS encourages competition from all qualified entities that will help continue to build on the successes we have made so far.

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