Apr 5, 2012

Partnership for Patients turns one

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine's study, “To Err is Human,” estimated that up to 98,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors. An average of 1 in 3 patients suffer a medical error or adverse event during hospital care.

A year ago, in April 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Partnership for Patients. The Partnership brings together hospital leaders, employers, health care providers, patient advocates, and state and federal governments toward the achievement of common goals of better care and lower costs. More than 7000 hospitals, physicians, nurses, health plans, consumer groups, and employers nationwide have since pledged their commitment to this initiative.

Up to a billion dollars of federal funding from Affordable Care Act has been committed towards 2 initial goals over next 3 years: Reducing preventable injuries in hospitals by 40% and reducing hospital readmissions by 20%.

Nearly $250 million was awarded to 26 state, regional, national, or hospital system organizations to be Hospital Engagement Networks. Hospital Engagement Networks will help identify successful strategies and enable their dissemination to hospitals and health care providers. Hospitals across the country are being provided with resources, financial support and networking to help them adopt best practices and to adapt them to their local circumstances. The formation of learning collaboratives, a concept successfully implemented world-wide by the Massachusetts-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is part of this strategy.

The Partnership could save 63,000 lives and up to $35 billion in health care costs over the next three years by preventing hospital-related injuries.

Here is a video, featuring patient advocate Sorrel King, that describes this initiative.

You can't manage what you can't measure. I believe that one of the strongest aspects of the Partnership is the establishment and implementation of a system to track and monitor progress in meeting national measurable quality improvement goals. This is a culture shift for many clinicians. Getting used to regular performance feedback and assuming individual responsibility to continually identify and implement strategies to better care for patients is now part of the job description for all clinicians. 

- Ulfat Shaikh

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