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Premier Demo Extended

By CQ Staff

February 23, 2997 -- A hospital pay-for-performance project that has improved the quality of care delivered to patients has been extended for another three years, according to Premier Inc., a hospital consortium that is sponsoring the demonstration project.

In a news release, Premier said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved an extension of the project, which includes more than 250 hospitals nationwide. The project provides incentive payments to participating hospitals if they performed well on 30 measures assessing treatment for heart attacks, heart failure, bypass surgery, pneumonia, and hip and knee replacements.

According to official results published last month, participating hospitals raised overall quality by 11.8 percent in two years in the five clinical areas studies, resulting in care and improved outcomes for more than 800,000 patients. A Premier report submitted to CMS on the demo also found that hospital costs could be lowered as much as $1.4 billion if certain treatment practices were followed for all U.S. patients with four of the five conditions.

"This project is making a real difference for patients now and in the future," said Richard A. Norling, Premier's president and chief executive officer.

The extension, announced Thursday, will allow CMS to test new ways to measure quality and new incentive models as part of the demonstration project. The extension will continue to track hospital performance in the clinical areas of pneumonia, heart bypass, heart failure, and hip and knee replacement, with flexibility to add quality measures and clinical conditions in the fifth and sixth years, Premier officials said.

New mortality and patient safety measures are among those that may be included, according to Premier. The extension will also test the effectiveness of two new models: hospitals achieving a defined level of quality and hospitals making the most improvement in quality that also achieve the quality threshold.

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