Today, the Department of Health and Human Services quietly hosted (if that’s possible) a conference call to unveil its new Partnership for Patients initiative. This initiative promised $1B in cash to hospitals, who eagerly participated in the call. HHS says the purpose of this initiative is to find ways to reduce hospital infections and medication errors, and to prevent repeat admission of patients caused by lack of continuity in their care after they are discharged from the hospital environment.
According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “Americans go the hospital to get well, but millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications and accidents.” On this basis, the Partnership for Patients is poised to spend $500M to fund research on best practices and model systems that reduce the occurrence of hospital-acquired infections and hospital errors by 40% by 2013.
The initiative will also provide $500M for the Community-Based Care Transitions Program. Hospitals are expected to use this money to develop ways in which patients can transition from a hospital to other patient care settings in ways that reduce the risk of readmission. The goal is a 20% reduction in the number of patient readmissions by 2013.
Pragmatic hospital administrators who may see this initiative as an oasis of encouragement in the increasingly arid healthcare environment, but they might not have much choice but to do so. What will probably happen somewhere down the road is that hospitals which cannot meet the standards for reduced errors will have to worry about the risk of cuts to their federal healthcare reimbursements.
Read today’s press release here.