Highmark trumpets strides of decade-old Quality Blue program
Highmark Inc. on Wednesday touted the results of its 10-year-old Quality Blue program, which pays hospitals based on improving quality.
Several initiatives to reduce hospital-acquired infections have saved about $45 million in unnecessary medical spending since 2007, Highmark officials said.
“There were a number of areas that continue to improve, including reducing preventable infections, complications and unnecessary readmissions,” said Linda Weiland, Highmark's vice president of provider network innovation and partnerships.
There are 91 hospitals across Pennsylvania and West Virginia participating in the optional Quality Blue program. Typically, 1 percent to 3 percent of their total annual reimbursement is tied to improving quality, Weiland said.
“We are approaching in 2013 close to $100 million in total reimbursement” that is tied to reducing hospital-acquired infections, hospital readmissions, and other issues, Weiland said.
Nine out of 10 hospitals in the state participate in some kind of quality program like Quality Blue, said Gary Tuma, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state agency that collects health care cost and quality data.
“It's a trend,” Tuma said, “and it's largely because people see it as an area with great potential for quality improvement.”
While it might not be possible to avoid all infections and readmissions, Tuma said, “A significant portion are preventable.”
Highmark said hospitals in Quality Blue have focused on reducing several types of preventable infections, including bloodstream infections from intravenous lines, urinary tract infections from catheters and infections from two bacteria that are commonly picked up in hospitals. Between 2007 and 2012, the effort yielded 2,527 fewer of those infections, saving $43 million, the insurer said.
Infections of surgical sites also is a common problem, Highmark said. Hospitals focused on it were able to prevent 739 infections between 2011 and 2012, Highmark said, saving more than $2 million.
Readmissions of patients in 30 days or less after a discharge also are an avoidable problem, Highmark said. Quality Blue showed a 2.7 percent decrease in readmissions between 2011 and 2012.
Highmark announced in July that it would begin requiring all 91 of the participating hospitals to track and reduce readmissions. It was previously an option under Quality Blue.
“It seems that certainly they're headed in the right direction,” Tuma said of the results. “It does seem to be paying off for them.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers finalize 53-man roster
- Pitt cruises past Delaware in season opener
- Rams cut Sam, 1st openly gay player drafted in NFL
- Fall preview: Neil Patrick Harris among coming autobiographers
- New heart drug gets top marks in study; cardiologist calls it significant breakthrough
- Decorating touches help retreats sparkle
- McConnell aide quits as scandal brews over 2012 presidential campaign
- Squashing stereotypes has women learning carpentry
- Former Steelers linebacker Harrison retires
- Beatles and the Burgh: 50th anniversary week celebrates city’s British Invasion
- California governor appeals ruling that struck down schoolteacher tenure