Patient partnership hits ground running

Initial focus is on acute care hospitals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is creating an infection control inspection survey for hospitals as part of its participation in the recently formed Partnership for Patients. Here is some basic Q & A information on the diverse alliance, with more available at http://1.usa.gov/gj8iFV.

What is the Partnership for Patients? The Partnership for Patients brings together leaders of major hospitals, employers, physicians, nurses, and patient advocates along with state and federal governments in a shared effort to make hospital care safer, more reliable, and less costly. To help achieve these goals, public and private partners will develop models to deliver better care for patients that can be shared widely. The two goals of this new partnership are to:

• Keep patients from getting injured or sicker. By the end of 2013, preventable hospital-acquired conditions would decrease by 40% compared to 2010. Achieving this goal would mean approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries to patients with more than 60,000 lives saved over three years.

• Help patients heal without complication. By the end of 2013, preventable complications during a transition from one care setting to another would be decreased such that all hospital readmissions would be reduced by 20% compared to 2010. Achieving this goal would mean more than 1.6 million patients will recover from illness without suffering a preventable complication requiring re-hospitalization within 30 days of discharge.

Who will the Partnership for Patients help? First and foremost, the Partnership for Patients is designed to help patients and their families. Everyone involved is committed to dramatically reducing the number of Americans who get injured or become sicker in the hospital, or suffer from preventable complications during a transition from one care setting to another.

Achieving the goals of the Partnership for Patients would mean approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries to patients with more than 60,000 lives saved over three years. It would also mean more than 1.6 million patients will recover from illness without suffering a preventable complication requiring re-hospitalization within 30 days of discharge.

The Partnership for Patients will also support hospitals and the nurses, doctors, and other professionals who work in them providing health care. No one ever wants to see a patient get hurt or become sicker in the hospital — certainly not those who have devoted their lives to healing. The Partnership for Patients will support health care providers in achieving their most important goal: taking the best possible care of their patients.

How much will the Partnership for Patients cost? Who is paying for it? Nearly one in seven Medicare beneficiaries is harmed during the course of their care, which costs the government nearly $4.4 billion in health care spending. The personal costs to patients of extended hospital stays and time away from work is untold. The status quo costs a lot — and it is unsustainable for Medicare, for employers, and for the budgets of patients and their families.

To address this very costly problem, the Department of Health and Human Services will use $1 billion made available through the Affordable Care Act. Other members of the Partnership for Patients — private and public — may choose to devote additional resources to supporting care improvement in their own settings. Achieving these goals will save lives and prevent injuries to millions of Americans, and has the potential to save up to $35 billion dollars across the health care system, including up to $10 billion in Medicare savings, over the next three years. Over the next ten years, it could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and result in billions more in Medicaid savings. This will help put our nation on the path toward a more sustainable health care system.

How will safety issues outside of hospitals be addressed? Patient safety is essential in every care setting. Initially, the Partnership for Patients focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on acute-care hospitals because of the strong evidence base around harm reduction in that setting, the pending payment changes on the horizon for acute-care hospitals, and a broad shared will across the stakeholder community to address the problem, thanks to decades of awareness-raising. The Partnership for Patients also focuses on care transitions, which link patients between acute-care settings and long-term care, rehabilitation, or their homes. Efforts identified to reduce readmissions will focus on ensuring that patients get the right care as plans are made for their discharge and post-discharge period. Working with hospitals, community-based organizations, patients and families to reduce readmissions is one of the Partnership's two central goals and will affect care quality and patient safety across the care continuum.