The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Conference kicked off its second day in Baltimore on Dec. 14, 2016, by concentrating on the increasingly important role of health care partnerships in achieving health equity and improving patient safety.
Dr. Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy administrator at CMS, took to the stage to share new results, revealing continued improvements in hospital patient safety. Notably, he celebrated a 21 percent decrease in the national hospital-acquired condition (HAC) rate across the country — approximately 125,000 lives saved and over three million fewer harms over the last five years.
“We’ve had more positive health transformation in the last three to five years than in health care history, but the reality is we still have a lot of work to do,” Conway said.
Increasing collaboration was among the focus areas for care safety and health equity highlighted by Cara James, Ph.D., director of the Office of Minority Health at CMS, as she explored the culture shift in health care.
“We must understand the importance of engaging the community as we develop solutions.”
“Health equity really is the sixth prong of our work, and it will ensure the quality of care we provide as we move forward,” said James, “We must understand the importance of engaging the community as we develop solutions.”
Echoing this message, Mary Smith, principal deputy director at the Indian Health Service (IHS), emphasized the role of the agency's partnerships with the Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN) and with QIN-QIO HealthInsight. These partnerships are supporting work toward its goal of improving health equity for American Indian and Alaska Natives by reducing adverse drug events by 20 percent and avoidable readmissions by 12 percent.
Closing the session, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emphasized the collaboration focus of the plenary and the conference theme, “Aligning for Innovation and Outcomes.”
“We can get more done by working together, so that’s what we’ve done,” he said.
Dr. Frieden also highlighted the success of the Million Hearts initiative, which — over the last five years — has contributed to the prevention of an estimated 500,000 heart attacks and strokes. But he also acknowledged that there is still more work to be done. With a new focus on reducing tobacco use, eliminating consumption of trans fat and reducing consumption of sodium, the Million Hearts initiative will continue through 2022.
After the plenary, Jennifer Lundblad, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Stratis Health, part of the Lake Superior Quality Innovation Network (QIN), captured the spirit of the morning, telling QIO News, “I think when we look back in five or 10 years, [coordination of care communities] will be the lasting legacy of this program cycle.”