The US has announced a staggeringly large initiative in the last few days.
HHS patient safety effort pledges to save 60,000 lives over three years
April 12, 2011 | Mary Mosquera
The Health and Human Services Department has launched the Partnership for Patients, an effort to cut medical mistakes and adverse events with the initial goal of saving 60,000 lives over the next three years.
So far, more than 500 hospitals, as well as physicians and nurses groups, consumer groups, and employers have pledged their commitment to the new initiative, said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in announcing the patient safety initiative on April 12.
HHS has pledged to spend up to $1 billion in funding under the health reform law to improve patient safety through sharing best practices and models being tried by hospitals across the nation and in the process, save lives, enhance quality, and reduce costs.
The funding will underwrite changes that help to achieve two shared goals by the end of 2013, one of them to decrease by 40 percent preventable hospital-acquired conditions compared with 2010. This would translate to 1.8 million fewer injuries to patients and 60,000 lives saved, Sebelius said.
Also by 2013, hospitals will reduce by 20 percent their re-admissions due to preventable complications during a transition from one care setting to another, compared with 2010. This means that 1.6 million will recover from illness without suffering a preventable complication requiring re-admission to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.
“Americans go the hospital to get well, but millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications and accidents,” Sebelius added.
Over the next three years, the practices employed by the partnership have the potential to save up to $35 billion in healthcare costs, including up to $10 billion for Medicare, Sebelius said. Over the next 10 years, the partnership could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and result in billions more in Medicaid savings.
Health IT, such as electronic health records, will be crucial for the tools to enable healthcare providers to have the right information to make the best decisions to improve patient safety, Sebelius said, adding that it will include measuring and monitoring patient outcomes.
A patient’s electronic health information record file ideally will be available instantaneously to know what is happening with the patient, that the right prescription has gotten to the pharmacist and be able to monitor whether that prescription was filled.
“The health IT investment that’s beginning to take hold in this country is a critical piece of the puzzle, not only measuring what we’re doing but then monitoring and being able to follow that protocol wherever the patient is so that care can be accessed and delivered,” Sebelius said.
This is a really amazingly large and sensible initiative I believe.
If we translate to Australian Terms (about 1/20 the size of the US) this should mean a spend of say $50 Million to undertake specific initiatives, like those planned in the US, to really make a difference.
Sadly I suspect we spend nowhere near that in our equivalent organisation. Here is the website:
They don’t seem to publish an Annual Report so it is a bit hard to know. According to the 2010 Budget some $11M is allocated to the Commission but it is to be spent monitoring the new health networks rather than this sort of effort as far as I can tell!
Note also the importance of Health IT in supporting the initiative.
Really good stuff we should look at emulating!