CMS announces new QIO contracts

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded new contracts to 14 organizations as part of an overhaul of the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) program Friday, CMS announced.

The new contracts, part of the second phase of QIO restructuring, will enable recipients to work with providers and communities through Quality Innovation Network (QIN)-QIOs. Each QIN-QIO will address strategies for quality concerns such as readmission reduction, hospital-acquired infections and medication errors, as well as technical assistance for value-based purchasing programs. In a three-year period, the QIO program prevented more than 95,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Under the restructuring, some providers will collaborate with different QIOs than those they worked with in the past, according to the announcement, but the program will still ensure that local practices consolidate.

CMS will officially implement the program changes Aug. 1, with the beginning of the five-year QIO contracts cycle, according to the announcement.

CMS announced the changes to the QIO program in May, beginning with a phase allowing two beneficiary and family-centered care QIO contractors to monitor activities outside the program's traditional quality-improvement sphere. The announcement followed a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine, which called for a reform of the program due to extensive mismanaged resources and potential conflicts of interest, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the announcement