California safety group saves $63 million

Forty hospitals report 3,500 deaths avoided and improvements in four significant measures, including early elective deliveries

Anthem Blue Cross and several other industry stakeholders collaborating in California’s Patient Safety First initiative have saved more than $63 million in three years. According to participants, more than 3,500 deaths were also avoided.

The group specifically targeted hospital-acquired infections and early elective deliveries at for-profit and not-for-profit facilities. A data sharing aspect and peer-to-peer learning system helped the clinical teams deliver improved care.

Results indicate:

  • 74% reduction in early elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestational age;

  • 57% reduction in cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia;

  • 43% reduction in cases of central line blood stream infections; and

  • 26% reduction in sepsis mortality.

To encourage results, Anthem aligned its quality incentive program criteria for providers with the measures for the safety initiative. Standardized measures were tracked and reported on a quarterly basis.

While 180 hospitals participate, 40 were able to report data consistently throughout the program measurement period.

Improving inpatient care is critical today as hospitals create methods to reduce readmissions for Medicare patients. Last week, Medicare indicated that it will penalize 2,225 hospitals based on insufficient improvement in readmission rates. Total penalties amount to $227 million-often less than a 1% pay reduction for the hospitals involved.