Dignity Health Saves $60 Million on Reductions in Hospital-Acquired Conditions and Readmissions; Positively Affects 16,000 Patients


Dignity Health has been selected for a second round of Hospital Engagement Network funding to develop and implement learning initiatives to support patient safety efforts across its system

SAN FRANCISCO - October 29, 2015 - Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems, is seeing significant outcomes resulting from its participation in the Partnership for Patients’ Hospital Engagement Network (HEN). Under the HEN program to improve patient care, Dignity Health reduced hospital acquired conditions (HACs) and readmissions across 12 patient safety areas. Its efforts across the system impacted more than 16,000 patients, saving the hospital system an estimated $60 million in just three years.

In recognition of the health system’s ongoing successes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services named Dignity Health as one of 17 organizations for a second round of Hospital Engagement Networks in the Partnership for Patients initiative, awarding $2.8 million to continue implementing changes that improve patient care.

“Through the commitment and collaboration of our caregivers and staff to patient safety, we’re seeing great results,” said Dr. Robert Wiebe, chief medical officer for Dignity Health. “We’ve improved how care is delivered at Dignity Health hospitals, providing compassionate, high-quality, and affordable care to all the patients we are privileged to serve.”

The Hospital Engagement Networks, formed by the federal Partnership for Patients initiative and made possible by the Affordable Care Act, is making significant strides towards better patient care at an affordable cost. Since the launch of HEN, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.

Dignity Health was one of the first health systems in the nation to sign the Partnership for Patients pledge and was one of only 26 to receive status as a first round Hospital Engagement Network. With an $8 million initial contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dignity Health established a system-wide program to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and preventable readmissions.

As a HEN, Dignity Health has successfully implemented system-wide patient safety and quality interventions at 39 hospitals throughout three states. Of the core set of 10 areas for the past three years, the health system achieved at least 40 percent improvement in four conditions and more than 30 percent improvement in three others. Over 16,000 lives were favorably impacted and Dignity Health achieved an estimated savings of over $63 million. The initial HEN program goals included an improvement goal of 40% and a readmissions reduction goal of 20% throughout the system.

Dignity Health also elected to pursue two additional areas of focus last year: developing a culture of safety through the system and reducing harm in the Emergency Department by decreasing throughput time from patient arrival to inpatient admission.

Below are the results for all 10 patient safety areas from Jan. 2012 through Sept. 2014 as well as two additional safety areas for last year:

  • Hypoglycemic Rate: 70 percent reduction achieved by standardizing insulin protocols and enhancing coordination.
  • Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections: 56 percent reduction implemented through a strict justification policy and significant education efforts.
  • Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections: 40 percent reduction from February to September 2014 accomplished by using alcohol-impregnated disinfection caps, new insertion practices and MeasureVentionists. The health system ended the campaign with an 80% reduction in December 2014.
  • Falls: 40 percent reduction by generating fall assessment scores, providing enhanced bedside protection and instituting monthly “fall calls.”
  • Early Elective Deliveries: 99 percent reduction through “hard stop” policies, and patient, staff, and physician education.
  • Hospital Acquired Pressure Ulcers: 45 percent reduction in 2014 compared to the baseline measure through enhanced wound assessments, risk assessments, and improved equipment and documentation.
  • Surgical Site Infections: 31 percent reduction through SCIP practices, skin prep, antibiotic dosing, environmental controls, wound dressing, and education.
  • Venous Thromboembolism & Pulmonary Embolism: 40 percent reduction achieved by standardized risk assessments, staff education, daily huddles, and documentation by MeasureVentionists.
  • Ventilator Associated Pneumonia: 55 percent reduction through bed elevation, advanced sedation practices, and the launch of “improvement teams.”
  • Readmissions within 30 Days: 4 percent reduction with an estimated total cost savings of $29,404,800.
  • Emergency Department holds and facility decompression: 4% overall improvement in emergency department throughput from patient arrival to inpatient admission in the past year.
  • Culture of Safety: 117% improvement over baseline from last year through incorporating the fundamentals of the “Just Culture” campaign.

“We are very proud of our results and appreciate the opportunity from CMS to participate in the Hospital Engagement Network,” said Barbara Pelletreau, senior vice president of patient safety, Dignity Health. “The HEN program amplifies our efforts to standardize the adoption of best practices to achieve meaningful results that have a direct impact on patient care and outcomes.”

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