Statewide infection rates drop with insurance pressure

With Medicare dollars at stake, healthcare facilities are trying to reduce--and eventually eliminate--healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Hospitals in California have found relative success through a three-year initiative that involves 160 hospitals across the state, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The campaign began 19 months ago and already has reduced ventilator-associated pneumonia by 41 percent, urinary tract infections involving catheters by 24 percent, and cases of blood poisoning by 11 percent. So far, the lower rates have saved about $11 million in healthcare costs.

A driving force behind the reduced HAIs is increased pressure from insurers, notes the LA Times.

Anthem Blue Cross is raising the heat by offering $6 million to fund the statewide program. WellPoint is putting pressure on hospitals to reduce unnecessary and costly HAIs by tying payment increases to hospitals in 14 states to quality criteria, including health outcomes, patient safety, and patient satisfaction measures.

Other states also are hoping reduced infections and improved quality of care will help curb healthcare spending. In Arkansas, the state Medicaid program is setting goals in 9 treatment areas to control costs, reports the Arkansas News Bureau.

The areas include pregnancy and neonatal care, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, type 2 diabetes, back pain, cardiovascular disease, upper respiratory infections, developmental disabilities, long-term care, and prevention.

Instead of making deep cuts to the program, state officials "decided to pick a few priority areas where we can have a big impact, that are ripe for change, where maybe there's a lot of inefficiency," Arkansas Department of Human Services Director John Selig said in the article.

To learn more:
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- read the Arkansas News article
- here's the California Healthline article