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CMS Hosts Program for Patient Safety, Quality Improvement

Conway says Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks will improve patient safety and care quality improvement.

By Sara Heath

- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are looking for applicants to be a part of a program supporting patient safety in hospitals and care quality improvement.

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In a blog post, CMS’s acting deputy administrator Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, explained that the agency is looking to improve patient safety in hospitals because past efforts have proven successful.

“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,” he wrote, referencing an AHRQ report from the end of last year.

The AHRQ report showed a 39 percent reduction in preventable patient harm since 2010, resulting in 87,000 lives saved.

CMS looks to emulate such progress by inviting hospitals to apply to be a part of Hospital Improvement and Innovation Networks. HIINs will be a part of the Quality Improvement Organization initiative.

Consulting with various industry resources such as hospital associations and health systems, HIINs will work to boost patient and provider engagement, helping to account for hospital acquired conditions and other harms that may befall patients. HIINs will also identify best practices and work with hospital workers to implement these.

HINNs’ work will build upon that which was started by Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs) under the Partnership for Patients initiative. This program has grown to support nearly 250 communities in improving care transitions and adverse medication events.

Over the course of the program, Conway says HIINs should reduce overall patient harm by 20 percent. HIINs also have a goal of reducing 30-day hospital readmissions by 12 percent. HINs will ideally accomplish both of these by 2019.

According to Conway, all are open to apply to be a HIIN, and those that previously participated in patient safety and quality improvement programs as HENs may also apply.

Many healthcare agencies have been focusing on patient safety as of late. Recently, AHRQ released a toolkit which would boost honest provider communication when patients encounter harm as a result of their care.

The Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) toolkit will help providers mitigate potential hospital-related issues, and also help them discuss these issues with patients with more empathy.

"Medical harm can impact patients twice — first by the harm itself, and then by the wall of silence that can follow," said AHRQ Director Andy Bindman, MD. "This toolkit helps foster honest and transparent communication in an effort to rebuild trust and support safer care for patients."

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it is important that professionals reassess how they account for patient safety. After all, health technology has been linked to patient safety risks. As technology becomes ubiquitous across the industry, providers need to understand how they are going to protect patients from harm and deliver the highest quality of care possible.

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