CMS Pledges $347 Million Toward Reducing Patient Harm and Readmissions

CMS announced on Thursday that it would award $347 million in contracts to various hospital associations and quality improvement organizations as part of its ongoing effort to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions in the Medicare program. The Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network agreement sets high goals in hopes of continuing the progress that has already been made in patient safety.

CMS announced on Thursday that it would award $347 million in contracts to various hospital associations and quality improvement organizations as part of its ongoing effort to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions in the Medicare program. The Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network agreement sets high goals in hopes of continuing the progress that has already been made in patient safety.

The initial phase of the Partnership for Patients initiative, which began in 2010, resulted in a 39% decrease in preventable patient harm by 2014, which was nearly on par with its goal of a 40% reduction. This decrease is equivalent to a 17% decline in overall all-cause patient harm.

Now, CMS has set its sights even higher by identifying the goal of a 20% decrease in overall patient harm over the next 4 years, measuring from the 2014 baseline of 121 incidences of harm out of 1000. This 20% decrease would translate to only 97 harms out of 1000 throughout the year 2019. Even if this ambitious objective is achieved, members involved in the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network say they will not be satisfied for long.

“Our goal is to get to zero incidents,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA). “AHA and our members intend to keep an unrelenting focus on providing better, safer care to our patients.”

The 16 organizations that will receive contracts within the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network plan to achieve the new goals by cultivating a safety-oriented mindset that puts patients first and focuses on providing high-quality, conscientious healthcare. The Network members will collaborate to develop initiatives and activities that will help hospitals learn more about ensuring patient safety.

Examples of topics that these initiatives will address include adverse drug events, fall injuries, pressure ulcers, readmissions and various infections, among others. By tackling these problems that commonly arise in the hospital setting and teaching healthcare providers how to prevent them, CMS is confident that the progress already resulting from Partnership for Patients can be maintained and even accelerated.

“The work of the Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will allow us to continue to improve health care safety across the nation and reduce readmissions at a national scale—keeping people as safe and healthy as possible,” said Patrick Conway, MD, acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer of CMS.