HHS Announces $840M to Move Health Care from Quantity to Quality

HHS has announced $840 million in funding to support health care strategies that focus on patient health outcomes and care coordination. The funding, which is being made possible through the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, will be awarded to applicants who demonstrate strategies to HHS that can be implemented to improve information access and health care outcomes.

Applicants

According to an HHS release announcing the funding, applicants may include organizations like group practices, health care systems, and medical provider associations. The funding is designed to help these kinds of organizations develop new strategies to provide doctors with better access to patient information, grow the ways in which patients can communicate with those that care for them, improve patient care coordination, and more efficiently use electronic health records. At its essence, the funding is about better care delivery, improved physician payment models, and enhancing information distribution. To become a successful applicant, physicians and practices will need to demonstrate measurable progress towards achieving theses goals. HHS will evaluate evidence of improved outcomes, cost savings, avoided unnecessary hospitalizations, and reduced unnecessary testing when considering applications.

Funding

The $840 million initiative will be paid out over the next four years. The initiative will reach its goals by influencing 150,000 clinicians through a combination of incentives, tools, and information. All of the strategies that HHS endeavors to support are designed to encourage doctors to team up and move health care from a volume-driven system to one that is based on value and quality of care.

ACA

The Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative is one of the many strategies advanced by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) devoted to changing the structure of health care delivery in the United States. HHS indicates that through other successful programs and initiatives like the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program, Partnership for Patients with Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs), and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), the ACA has already positively impacted patient health outcomes. For example, HHS says the ACA “has helped reduce hospital readmissions in Medicare by nearly 10 percent between 2007 and 2013—translating into 150,000 fewer readmissions—and quality improvements have resulted in saving 15,000 lives and $4 billion in health spending during 2011 and 2012.”