HHS Awards $218M to Create Hospital Engagement Networks

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , December 15, 2011

"In just the past eight months we've seen an overwhelming response from doctors, employers, patient advocates, and other partners who believe the time is now to improve patient safety. As a former ICU nurse and hospital administrator, I'm proud to see hospitals stepping up to the plate," said Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the HHS agency sponsoring the program.

HEN participants were selected based on a competitive process that included an assessment of the applicant's technical capabilities, past experiences, and its key personnel and staff. The initial contracts are for two years but may be extended for one additional year.

Hospital Engagement Networks will be required to conduct training and technical assistance to help hospitals meet the quality measurement goals set by the Partnership for Patients, a public-private patient safety initiative whose goals include reducing the incidence of preventable hospital-acquired infections by 40% and reducing hospital readmissions by 20% over the next three years.

CMS will monitor HENs to ensure that patient safety is actually being improved. The networks will be required to provide reports to CMS that describe their activities and the progress of their quality improvement efforts.

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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