The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Sept. 29 awarded $347 million in contracts to 16 organizations, including the AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), to continue efforts to reduce hospital- acquired conditions and readmissions in the Medicare program.

The Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks (HIIN) will continue the work of the now-concluded Hospital Engagement Networks work to reduce overall hospital- acquired conditions by 20% and 30-day hospital readmissions by 12%.

AHA/HRET led the largest HEN project. The HRET HEN initiative marked a concerted effort by more than 1,500 hospitals to improve care across 11 areas, including prevention of hospital infections, falls, early elective maternal deliveries and preventable readmissions.  

Among other findings, the AHA/HRET HEN helped hospitals reduce early elective deliveries by 44%, post-operative venous thromboembolisms by 34% and surgical site infections by 21% over the past year, preventing more than 34,000 incidents with an associated cost savings of nearly $300 million.

Overall, CMS estimated that some 2.1 million patient incidents were prevented, and $20 billion was saved from 2010 to 2014 through the HEN project.

“We’ve made significant and successful progress in keeping patients safe over the last few years,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS’s chief medical officer and acting principal deputy administrator.

Two noteworthy differences between HIINs and HENs is that the HIIN program will be part of the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization program, not Partnership for Patients, where the HEN program was overseen.

In addition, CMS has added the goal of committing to improve health equity and giving specific attention to identifying and reducing health care disparities, according to a CMS fact sheet.

Some additional topics to be considered by the HIINs are multidrug resistant organisms (such as MRSA); addressing malnutrition in the inpatient setting and fostering a hospital culture of safety.

 “America’s hospitals embrace the ambitious new goals CMS has proposed,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “The vast majority of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals were involved in the successful pursuit of the initial Partnership for Patients aims. Our goal is to get to zero incidents.” He added that the AHA and its members intend to “keep an unrelenting focus on providing better, safer care to our patients – working in close partnership with the federal government and with each other.”


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