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Blue Cross Blue Shield Forum Highlights Programs for Improving Patient Safety, Health Care Quality

By Adam Bloedorn, CQ Staff

September 17, 2007 – Hospitals that participated in the incentive program known as pay for performance showed significant improvement compared to non-participating hospitals, improving quality of care by 11.8 percent on average, according to research conducted by Premier Inc., a hospital consortium.

Premier's findings were among those announced Friday during a forum at the National Press Club, where health care providers discussed results collected from various programs targeting patient safety and health care quality. The event was sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and is part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 5 Million Lives Campaign, a 24-month program started in 2006 that seeks to prevent five million medical incidents that could harm patients.

Premier worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services over the past two years to study the quality of care at 260 hospitals in five clinical areas: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, community-acquired pneumonia, coronary artery bypass graft, and hip and knee replacement. Pay for performance, also dubbed "P4P," is a program in which hospitals can receive monetary bonuses for improved performance.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama said between 2002–2006, Alabama hospitals were able to able to decrease costs for treatments of hospital-acquired infections by 35 percent by stressing preventative measures. Hospitals in the program used real-time electronic data to improve tracking of infections, which account for over 85,000 deaths per year in the United States, according to Executive Vice President Terry Kellogg.

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