Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, joined by leaders of major hospitals, employers, health plans, physicians, nurses and patient advocates, announced the Partnership for Patients, a new national partnership that will help save 60,000 lives by stopping millions of preventable injuries and complications in patient care during the next 3 years. The Partnership for Patients also has the potential to save up to $35 billion in health care costs, including up to $10 billion for Medicare. During the next 10 years, the Partnership for Patients could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and result in billions more in Medicaid savings. Already, more than 500 hospitals — as well as physicians and nurses groups, consumer groups and employers — have pledged their commitment to the new initiative.
“Americans go the hospital to get well, but millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications and accidents,” Sebelius, stated in a press release. “Working closely with hospitals, doctors, nurses, patients, families and employers, we will support efforts to help keep patients safe, improve care, and reduce costs. Working together, we can help eliminate preventable harm to patients.”
To launch this initiative, HHS announced it would invest up to $1 billion in federal funding, made available through the Affordable Care Act, with $500 million of that funding made available through the community-based Care Transitions Program. Up to $500 million more will be dedicated from the CMS Innovation Center to support new demonstrations related to reducing hospital-acquired conditions. The funding will be invested in reforms that help achieve two shared goals:
- Keep hospital 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 during the next 3 years; and
- Help patients heal without complication. By the end of 2013, preventable complications during a transition from one care setting to another would be decreased so 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.
The Partnership will target all forms of harm to patients but will start by asking hospitals to focus on nine types of medical errors and complications where the potential for dramatic reductions in harm rates has been demonstrated by pioneering hospitals and systems across the country.
HHS has committed $500 million to community-based organizations partnering with eligible hospitals to help patients safely transition between settings of care. Community-based organizations and acute care hospitals that partner with community-based organizations have begun submitting applications for this funding. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Awards will be made on an ongoing basis as funding permits.