The number of designated patient-safety organizations, or PSOs, continues to grow faster than originally anticipated by the federal agency overseeing the program.
Safety in numbers
Roster of PSOs rapidly expanding: AHRQ
Last week, the group purchasing and quality network Premier announced it had formed a PSO subsidiary to collect and analyze patient data. With that organization, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality had 54 PSOs listed in 27 states as of March 20, said William Munier, director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at AHRQ. Applications continue to come in to the agency, which last year had estimated it would designate 50 PSOs during the first year of operation. The numbers are slightly ahead because of large interest among groups to form PSOs, Munier said.
The federal agency expects to release this summer a set of common formats, developed with help by the National Quality Forum, that hospitals can use when submitting data to PSOs to help ensure information is being compared accurately, Munier said. Common formats for long-term-care facilities and other types of providers will be rolled out over time as well.
Huntsville (Ala.) Hospital, which has been focusing on safety initiatives such as hand hygiene, and infection and falls prevention over the past year, is exploring the possibility of joining a PSO, said Jeff Samz, chief operating officer of the 832-bed facility. The kinds of things being worked on, most hospitals are doing anyway, he said. Providers thinking of participating in a data-sharing initiative have to consider how securely the information will be kept, whether the PSOs technology is compatible with hospital systems and the costs involved, he said.
PSOs are designated through law to provide a central, privileged and confidential setting for patient-safety data analysis that hospitals could then use to implement change (Nov. 10, 2008, p. 8).
Most of the listed PSOs remain in the early stages of operation; many are still signing contracts with vendors to manage the data-collection process and searching for providers to participate in the voluntary program.
The Coalition for Quality & Patient Safety of Chicagoland, a separate, regional PSO run by the not-for-profit Institute of Medicine of Chicago, is in the final stages with a vendor to manage the data aggregation and information technology systems, said Carrie Nelson, program director of the family medicine residency program at 157-bed Rush-Copley Medical Center, Aurora, Ill., and chairwoman of the coalition.
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