“We are committed to making even greater progress keeping people as safe and healthy as possible,” Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer for the CMS and its deputy administrator for innovation and quality, said in a blog post announcing a bidding process for contracts that will extend the Partnership for Patients.
The extent of the Partnership for Patients' success is disputed, largely because hospitals did not use common measures to track quality and safety gains.
New contracts, however, will require hospitals to track progress on quality and safety with identical measures of performance.
Hospitals that participate in the next round must largely report quality using 17 measures identified by the CMS Innovation Center. They may deviate from the list for up to two of the measures but must report performance for at least 15 of the 17 measures.
Applications are due March 30.
Last December federal officials published an analysis finding that 1.3 million fewer patients were harmed in U.S. hospitals over the three years of the initiative compared with 2010 benchmarks set when the partnership launched. Researchers also estimated that nearly 50,000 deaths and $12 billion in healthcare costs were averted. Patient-safety experts, however, said the program's results were unclear because of the lack of standard measures.
The initial Partnership for Patients set a target and deadline to reduce hospital-acquired conditions by 40% and readmissions by 20% by December 2013 against the 2010 benchmarks. The program was extended through 2014, as was the deadline, and results will be released later this year, according to CMS. The agency will continue to measure gains made during the next one-year round of the Partnership for Patients against the 2010 baselines.
The CMS estimates that hospital-acquired conditions declined by 17% between 2010 and 2013. Preliminary results available for other performance areas show readmissions declined by about 7% from 2010 through October 2013.
Safety officials and senior leaders with the Minnesota Hospital Association, one of the partnership's original hospital engagement networks, plan to evaluate the CMS Innovation Center proposal next week.
Uniform quality standards likely won't be the burden that CMS Innovation Center officials feared when first launching the program in 2011, said Tania Daniels, vice president for patient safety for the Minnesota association. That's because participants gained experience and worked to improve measure coordination during the initial three-year program.
"We started off with 100% variety and variation in what was measured," Daniels said. The trade group is now “committed and anxious” to see the work continue.
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