CMS Continues Progress toward a Safer Health Care System through Integrated Efforts to Improve Patient Safety and Reduce Hospital Readmissions

By: Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer

We know that it is possible to improve national patient safety performance resulting in millions of people avoiding infections and adverse health events. A report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality back in December showed an unprecedented 39 percent reduction in preventable patient harm in U.S. hospitals compared to the 2010 baseline. 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. 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, 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. Today, we at CMS are excited to continue progress toward a safer health care system by releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks (HIINs).

The HIINs, which will be part of the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) initiative, will continue the good work started by the Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs) under the Partnership for Patients initiative. These organizations 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. The HIINs will engage and support the nation’s hospitals, patients, and their caregivers in work to implement and spread well-tested, evidence-based best practices.

QIOs that have developed strong relationship with HENs under the Partnership for Patients initiative have decades of experience with quality improvement and are currently supporting more than 250 communities nationally in work to improve care transitions and reduce adverse drug events across a wide variety of health care and community-based organizations.  HENs involved in supporting the Partnership for Patients initiative have established relationships and trusted partnerships with over 3,700 acute care hospitals. These efforts involve approximately 80 percent of all people discharged from hospitals across the nation.

The further integration of work across these influential networks will permit the continued and increased systematic use of proven practices to improve patient safety and reduce readmissions, at a national scale in all U.S. hospitals. Through 2019, the new HIINs will commit to and pursue bold new national aims to achieve a 20 percent decrease in overall patient harm and a 12 percent reduction in 30-day hospital readmissions as a population-based measure (readmissions per 1,000 people) from the 2014 baseline, thereby bolstering the impact of both the QIO program and the Partnership for Patients.

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. 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.

More information about today’s RFP may be found at FedBizOpps.gov.

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