As the new president and CEO of AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), I am thrilled that HRET has been selected as one of 16 national, regional or state hospital associations, Quality Improvement Organizations and health system organizations to continue efforts in reducing preventable hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions.

The Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network, or HIIN, contracts build upon the collective and extraordinary momentum of the Hospital Engagement Networks (HEN) and Quality Improvement Organizations to reduce patient safety incidents and readmissions. This announcement is part of a broader effort to transform the country’s health care system into one that works toward better, safer, high-value care for the American people and for the Medicare program.

HRET will participate in the Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks to continue working to improve patient care in the hospital setting. More than 1,700 hospitals and health systems, 32 state hospital associations and six Quality Improvement Organizations/Quality Improvement Networks will join HRET on this journey.

Through the new HIIN project, we will build on the success of the first, three-year AHA/HRET HEN project that prevented more than 92,000 patient safety incidents, saving nearly $1 billion in estimated associated health care costs. The second HEN, which was for one year and just concluded last month, prevented more than 34,000 incidents and saved more than $300 million in health care costs.

Over the next two years, HRET’s HIIN will work to achieve a 20 percent decrease in overall patient safety incidents and a 12 percent reduction in 30-day hospital readmissions as a population-based measure (readmissions per 1,000 people) from the 2014 baseline. Efforts to address health equity, advance patient-family engagement and ensure high-reliability organizations for patients will be central to the HIIN efforts. CMS will monitor and evaluate the activities of the HIIN to ensure that they are generating results and improving patient safety.

Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer, said it best: “We have made significant progress in keeping patients safe – an estimated 2.1 million fewer patients harmed, 87,000 lives saved, and nearly $20 billion in cost-savings from 2010 to 2014 – and we are focused on accelerating improvement efforts. The work of the HIINs 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.”

The HIINs are part of the Partnership for Patients with the goal of reducing federal program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care. Since the launch of the Partnership for Patients and the work of Hospital Engagement Networks in collaboration with many other stakeholders, the vast majority of U.S. hospitals have delivered results as demonstrated by the achievement of unprecedented national reductions in patient safety incidents.

Retention, recruitment and methodology to develop collaborative learning networks will be critical to the success of the HIINs. We have to continue to foster a sense of ownership and reduce burnout with hospital quality and patient safety staff. HRET is committed, with our partners, to amplifying and accelerating impact together, sharing best practices, creating the next practice, shining a light through storytelling and inspiring a new normal for hospitals, patients and their families. HRET also will bring the voice, resources and experience of the entire AHA to the journey, including our nursing community through the American Organization of Nurse Executives, our Institute for Diversity’s Equity of Care campaign, our personal membership groups and our physician community, so that we can deliver on the ambitious goals that will lead to better and safer care.

CMS believes, as does HRET, that the upcoming work of the HIINs, working as part of the Quality Improvement Organization’s work to improve patient safety and the quality of care in the Medicare program, will continue the great strides made in improving care to patients.

For more information on the Partnership for Patients and the HIINs, please visit: partnershipforpatients.cms.gov.

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