Hospital boards, which used to reject grand ideas with no guaranteed returns, are allowing these expenditures in hope that the economies will be forthcoming. They may fail, but hospitals will try again.
Unexpectedly, hubris and humility are coming together for the common good.
Of course, much of this has been legitimized by the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation or CMMI, whose $10 billion treasure chest specified in the Affordable Care Act is expected to move improvement projects along. Launched five months ago, CMMI will give its imprimatur and funding to many of these efforts. At least that's the hope.
Webcast: Alternative ACO Strategies: June 7, 2011, 1:00–2:30 pm (ET) Register today.
Douglas Wood, MD, assistant director of the Mayo Clinic on Innovation, also is aware of many healthcare systems wanting to start innovation centers because so many have come to the Mayo for advice.
That's probably a good thing, he says. But how much of a role CMMI will play is so far unclear. Wood says the agency's efforts so far "have not been encouraging."
"CMMI has been trying to define its priorities, and at the moment, they've spent a lot of time working on accountable care organizations and addressing hospital readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions," he says.
"Once CMMI and Medicare get through the challenge of writing rules for ACOs, maybe then they can begin to focus a bit more on true delivery system innovation, and think about partnering with delivery systems that want to be innovators. I think then we'll see more progress," he adds.
National Quality Forum founder and former CEO Kenneth Kizer, MD, who is directing one newly launched center at the University of California at Davis, sent me this e-mail in response to my question about the growth of such centers: