The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded $347 million to 16 organizations to pursue patient safety initiatives using a similar approach to the now-concluded Hospital Engagement Network program.

CMS seeks to continue the work of the HENs using a new vehicle called a Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network. “We’ve made significant and successful progress in keeping patients safe over the last few years,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., chief medical officer and acting principal deputy administrator at CMS, at a news conference. An estimated 2.1 million patient incidents were prevented, and $20 billion was saved from 2010 to 2014, according to CMS. “I’ve never seen this level of results,” Conway said.

The awardees in the new program are aiming to build on that success, using the 2014 results from the HEN program as the baseline for the HIINs. The stated targets are to reduced overall patient incidents by 20 percent through 2019 beginning this month, and to reduce 30-day hospital readmissions by 12 percent.

“Getting to zero patient safety incidents is the goal of every hospital,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, which is affiliated with the Health Research & Educational Trust, one of the sponsors of the new HIINs.

“That’s why this program is so important; it helps hospitals share what works, it spreads best practices, so that (the hospital) field can continue to improve in providing better, safer care to our patients. That’s what this is all about,” Pollack said, also speaking at the news conference.

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 (e.g., MRSA); addressing malnutrition in the inpatient setting and hospital culture of safety.

In addition to the HRET, other recipients of the awards are:

  • Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Dignity Health
  • Healthcare Association of New York State
  • HealthInsight
  • Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey
  • Health Services Advisory Group
  • The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania
  • Iowa Healthcare Collaborative
  • Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Health Foundation
  • Minnesota Hospital Association
  • Ohio Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety
  • Ohio Hospital Association
  • Premier Inc.
  • Vizient Inc.
  • Washington State Hospital Association