HHS forms infection-fighting hospital engagement networks

Furthering its efforts to improve patient safety, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is awarding $218 million to 26 hospital organizations to reduce hospital-acquired conditions though hospital engagement networks (HEN), the agency announced yesterday.

The HENs will serve as "mobile classrooms" at the national, regional, state, or hospital level to share best practices and lessons learned as they implement new strategies designed to shrink hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and hospital readmissions by 20 percent within three years.

With $500 million from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center, the HENs will provide intensive training programs to help hospitals make patient care safer, as well as the technical support needed for hospitals to achieve the Partnership for Patients' quality improvement goals.

Selected organizations will lead HENs for a 24-month period, during which they will give reports to CMS that explain their activities and progress of their quality improvement efforts.

The American Hospital Association, whose membership includes more than 5,000 hospitals, healthcare systems, and providers will lead a network, as will hospital operator LifePoint Hospitals with its 52 affiliated hospitals in 17 states.

The networks are part of the HHS' national collaboration to save more than 60,000 lives and up to $35 billion in healthcare costs by the end of 2013 by eliminating preventable harm caused by bad care.

To learn more:
- here's the HHS announcement
- read more information about HENs