As clinicians and leaders involved in a hospital engagement network know, peer-to-peer learning can be a boon for improving processes and reducing patient harm. At the same time, figuring out how to share information openly and effectively takes time and commitment.

Yesterday, CMS launched another multiyear initiative aimed at promoting best practices that officials hope will drive the delivery system closer to the Triple Aim. CMS' innovation center will spend $840 million over four years on the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative, which is expected to include upward of 150,000 clinicians nationwide. Among the overarching goals: saving between $1 billion and $5 billion and preventing 5 million unnecessary hospitalizations during the four-year span.

Evidence shows that clinicians need support in driving performance improvement, Patrick Conway, M.D., deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer for the CMS, said during a press call. “We are making a federal investment here to support that transformation," he added.

The new program comes on the heels of the HEN project, during which more than 3,700 hospitals focused on ways to reduce patient harm. Two key lessons from that mammoth undertaking were the need to forge partnerships across the delivery system and to set big goals, says Maulik Joshi, president of the AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust. HRET ran the nation's largest HEN. Additionally, it is important to coalesce around specific measures and data points and evolve from there, Joshi says.

While the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative is aimed at clinicians, hospitals and other organizations are also expected to play significant roles. In fact, the agency is specifically interested in programs that demonstrate organizations' working in unison to achieve broad goals, said Jean Moody-Williams, deputy director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality.

CMS listed a few potential strategies that would be eligible for funding:

  • Giving doctors better access to patient information, including medication adherence strategies;
  • Creating more opportunities for patients to communicate with clinicians;
  • Improving care coordination across the continuum;
  • Using health IT to improve quality and efficiency.

More specifics on the program are available here. The agency encourages interested organizations to submit a nonbinding letter of intent by Nov. 20. Applications are due Jan. 6.