Aurora Health Care among top health systems in national quality initiative

November 16, 2010

Demonstration project pays for positive patient outcomes

Milwaukee, Wi. – Aurora Health Care is among the top performing health systems in a national project that ties incentive payments to quality outcomes. This is the third year Aurora has been a top performer in the Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (HQID) project sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Premier, a national health care alliance.

“Improving quality is an ongoing commitment for us at Aurora,” says Nick Turkal, MD, Aurora’s president and CEO. “It is an important part of our value equation and a proven way to contain costs.”

The first national program of its kind, the Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration project is designed to improve the quality of inpatient care through economic incentives. These improvements saved an estimated 6,500 heart attack patients in five years, according to Premier. The project’s successes have also helped shape national health reform legislation.

Two Aurora hospitals stand out as national leaders for individual performance in the initiative. Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wisc., received 10 out of 12 possible awards. Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington, Wisc., nine of 10 possible awards.

The project involves 225 hospitals and spans six years. It provides hospitals incentive payments for top performance in six clinical areas: congestive heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia, heart bypass surgery, hip and knee replacement, and reduction of postoperative complications.

In the fifth-year results just released, Aurora hospitals earned 75 top performer awards, the second highest total in the nation. As a result, Aurora received a bonus payment of $337,492 in total incentive payments from CMS, which awarded incentive payments of $12 million to 218 hospitals.

CMS has awarded more than $48 million over the project’s first five years.

Susan DeVore, president and CEO of Premier, an alliance of 2,400 US hospitals and 70,000 other health care sites, expects the project to have a lasting impact.

“HQID was created to test the impact of economic incentives on quality,” Devore says. “As CMS prepares to implement value-based purchasing for all hospitals as required by the Affordable Care Act, HQID participants will have six years experience with such a model.”

For hospitals participating in the HQID project, the average Composite Quality Score (CQS), an aggregate of all process and outcomes measures within each clinical area, improved by 18.3 percent over the project’s first five years. Examples of the measures include the proper administering of aspirin, beta blockers and antibiotics; and readmission and mortality rates.

Additional research by Premier showed that by March 2008, HQID participants scored on average 6.9 percentage points higher (94.64 percent to 87.36 percent) than nonparticipants when evaluating 19 common measures.

About Aurora Health Care
Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

About Premier
Premier is a performance improvement alliance of not-for-profit hospitals. Premier maintains the nation's most comprehensive repository of clinical, financial and outcomes information and operates a leading health care purchasing network. A world leader in helping deliver measurable improvements in care, Premier works with CMS and the United Kingdom's National Health Service North West to improve hospital performance.

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Contact: Myrle Croasdale
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