The Leapfrog Group, a business coalition seeking to accelerate the pace of patient-safety initiatives, will announce this week a collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on new ways to reward quality and make providers publicly accountable.
The new working relationship with the government is part of a three-pronged expansion of objectives for the Washington-based group, financed by a $4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In an exclusive interview, Leapfrog officials said collaboration with the CMS and other quality-improvement groups will help broaden its initial focus on safety advances to include educating employees about provider quality and creating incentives for universal adoption of safe practices.
Leapfrog "was never (only) about inpatient safety," said Robert Galvin, director of global healthcare for General Electric Co. and a Leapfrog member. "It was about what the consumer wants to know to make decisions."
Leapfrog wants to foster financial incentives for quality, something the CMS is beginning to explore, said Suzanne Delbanco, Leapfrog's executive director. Last December, the CMS launched a three-state pilot project to test methods of measuring and publicly reporting hospital performance.
Although no specific proposals have been discussed, Delbanco said, the partnership will link the government's regulatory authority with the private sector's latitude to factor quality into purchasing decisions.
Since its launch three years ago, Leapfrog has prodded hospitals to adopt a limited but challenging set of "leaps" in safety and to report on their progress to consumers. Those standards involve computerized physician order entry, intensive-care unit physician staffing and minimum volume for certain high-risk procedures.
Delbanco said Leapfrog doesn't plan to back away from those standards but will revise them to reflect providers' complaints that some requirements are too tough. For example, starting in May hospitals will get partial credit for making some progress to implement a computerized physician order-entry system (See related story, p. 6).
Leapfrog will provide technical assistance and assume a leadership role in two ongoing quality-improvement efforts:
* Rewarding Results, an $8.8 million initiative to align payment programs and nonfinancial incentives with high-quality healthcare.
* The Consumer/Purchaser Disclosure Project, a group that seeks to provide publicly reported and standardized measures for clinical quality and efficiency by 2007.