The CMS tapped a dozen regional organizations Thursday to receive 20 awards, known as Special Innovation Projects, to pursue or expand existing initiatives to improve the quality of healthcare over the course of two years.
Those regional organizations are all Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organizations, which work to improve patient safety, care coordination and clinical quality for Medicare patients.
The awards fell into two categories. The first is for local projects to provide better care at a lower cost. The second is to expand small-scale projects that have already shown success in those areas.
The Special Innovation Projects are an opportunity to address "critical health care issues" in areas "that may be underutilized, but represent a significant opportunity if spread locally, regionally, or nationally," CMS officials wrote in a blog post announcing the awards. "CMS sought proposals with scientific rigor, a strong analytic framework and a reasonable, proposed intervention based on the supporting evidence," they added.
Nine Quality Improvement Networks received awards under the first category.
To create and test out educational interventions to prevent common infections in home health settings, the Great Plains QIN is set to work with 25 home health agencies in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
In the Virgin Islands, a project by Health Services Advisory Group takes aim at building out telepsychiatry services in St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. And in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, TMF Quality Innovation Network will tackle treatment for depression and alcohol abuse, working with 80 physician practices.
The CMS tapped 11 networks to expand existing projects. Some of those groups, like the Health Services Advisory Group, also received awards for projects in the first category.
Health Insight will work to improve patient flow in rural primary care in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Oregon using the ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes model. In hospitals in Washington and Idaho, a project by Qualis Health will tackle the social determinants of health when Medicare beneficiaries are discharged from the hospital. Its goal is to reduce readmissions and increase screening rates for social determinants of health.
The CMS' program for quality improvement has 14 regional Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organizations that each cover two to six states. They are supposed to bring together Medicare patient, providers and communities through data-driven initiatives to improve patient safety, community health and clinical quality, the QIO website explained.
Currently, those organizations have four major goals: preventing and treating chronic disease through safe, patient-centered care; improving safety and reducing harm during care delivery; promoting better communication and coordination for care; and improving affordability.