State Hospital Engagement Network saves $446 million and 46,112 patients from harm

Reductions in falls, infections, adverse drug events, and other patient harm at hospitals participating in the Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network (PA-HEN) are collectively making a big impact on both health care spending and patient outcomes in the state says the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs) are collaborative organizations recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that are set up to enable different hospitals to share best practices and work together on initiatives and activities that improve patient safety. They also track and monitor hospitals progress in meeting safety goals. Many of the 26 recognized HENs are part of large healthcare systems like Ascension Health and Lifepoint Hospitals Inc. But more than half are state and regional groups, like the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, which bring together competing organizations in their area.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania says that it established its HEN in 2012 and since then, they have seen a 43 percent reduction in hospital patients being injured in falls and a 55 percent reduction in preventable adverse drug events. This exceeded their goal of a 40 percent reduction in harm from these types of adverse hospital events.

In addition, they saw obstetrical adverse events go down 20 percent, early elective deliveries go down 27 percent and surgical-site infections go down 30 percent. The results in this last category were nearly twice as good as they had expected as the goal for surgical-site infections was a 17.6 percent reduction.

Hospital-acquired infections also were reduced, but the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania did not disclose by how much.

Although the program is still very new and spreading change in healthcare can be a slow process, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania was excited by the progress so far. It noted that these results translate into an estimated $446 million reduction in unnecessary health care spending and an estimated 46,112 Pennsylvanians’ lives saved from harm since 2012 when the program began.

“Pennsylvania hospitals are to be commended for the accomplishments achieved to date,” said HAP President and CEO Andy Carter in a press release. "The strides made here in the commonwealth clearly are contributing to the nation’s reported success at reducing patient harm and improving care.

Collaborating with other hospitals, including competitors, may indeed lift all boats. Readmission rates, which are becoming increasingly important in ensuring maximum reimbursement levels from payors, were also improved for the Pennsylvania hospitals participating in the state’s HEN. Collectively, the hospitals achieved a collective 28 percent reduction in 30-day all-cause, all-payer readmissions from their 2011 baseline, according to the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

Other states seem to be finding similar results. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nationally there has been a 9 percent decrease in hospital-acquired conditions, and an 8 percent reduction in the Medicare all-cause 30-day readmission rate.

To give one other state example, according to HHS, the 152 hospitals participating in the Healthcare Association of New York State HEN collectively achieved:

  • A 6.5 percent decrease in the rate of adverse drug events for high alert drugs per 1,000 patient days
  • A 16.6 percent decrease in falls with injury per1,000 patient days
  • A 78.2 percent decrease in the rate of early elective deliveries.
  • A 27.0 percent decrease in hip prosthesis surgical site infection
  • A 30.4 percent decrease in possible ventilator-associated pneumonia rate per 1,000 ventilator days
  • A 10.2 percent decrease in 30-day all-cause readmission rate.

According to CMS, nationwide, there are currently more than 3,700 hospitals operating within the 26 recognized HENs.