Wisconsin hospital collaborative saves $87M

A collaborative effort by Wisconsin's hospitals to improve quality led to a big payday: An estimated $87 million in savings as reported by the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA). 

More than 100 hospitals throughout the state collaborated on improving care processes for some 9,000 patients, according to AHA News Now. Much of the work focused on preventing hospital-acquired infections, with a particular emphasis on central line-associated blood stream infections. The statewide CLABSI infection rate has dropped 71 percent since 2008, according to the WHA. The group also worked on developing best practices for insertion of urethral catheters, bringing down the infection rate for that group of patients by 20 percent in recent years.

The hospitals have also formed 22 regional coalitions with a focus on significantly driving down the 30-day hospital readmission rate.

"Wisconsin hospitals are demonstrating measurable and sustained progress toward improving care by adopting best practices, sharing what they have learned, and working in teams," said WHA Chief Quality Officer Kelly Court in a statement. "We still have work to do, but we have the improvement processes, determination and support to move us closer." 

The dollar amount reported by the WHA is larger than in recent years. In 2014, it said hospitals had saved some $34 million in costs, primarily by reducing the number of surgical site infections and cutting readmissions by 22 percent.

And in neighboring Illinois, which has more than double Wisconsin's population, a similar coalition of hospitals reported last year it saved $132 million by reducing hospital-acquired infections and readmissions.

Hospitals throughout the country are collaborating in order to reduce avoidable costs, particularly in areas such as infections and readmissions within 30 days of a hospital discharge, with some results to show for the work.

Nationwide, the rate of hospital-aqcuired infections has been in decline in recent years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medicare has promised to financally penalize hospitals with the highest rates of conditions acquired within their facilities, including infections.

To learn more:
- read the AHA News Now article 
- check out the WHA announcement (.pdf)
- here's the report (.pdf)

Related Articles:
Illinois hospitals save $132M by preventing readmissions, infections 
Wisconsin hospitals reduce readmissions by 22 percent, save $34M 
CDC report indicates progress on HAI reduction 
Medicare to penalize hospitals with highest rate of HACs