Building on the success of its Hospital Quality Improvement Demonstration, Premier Inc. is launching a new initiative to pay hospitals that perform at the top of a scale measuring improvements in mortality, the percentage of patients receiving appropriate care, efficiency, harm avoidance, and patient satisfaction.
Premier introduced the QUEST (Quality, Efficiency, Safety, and Transparency) initiative in late July and said it was recruiting hospitals to participate through the end of September. In a briefing with reporters, Premier president and CEO Richard A. Norling said that 60 hospitals had expressed interest so far, but he declined to name them.
Premier is an alliance owned by 1,700 nonprofit hospitals. Premier's purchasing network also serves 46,500 health care entities. The alliance's previous project–HQID–was a joint effort with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that began in 2003 and concludes in November.
QUEST will initially focus on hospitals' risk-adjusted mortality ratio, and on how well they deliver appropriate care, measured by the percentage of patients who receive perfect care according to evidence-based guidelines. Hospitals will also be measured on the severity adjusted cost per discharge, a reflection of efficiency.
In the second year, QUEST hospitals will have to show how well they prevent health care-related infections and adverse drug events, and how well they serve patients, measured through CMS Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. QUEST participants are also expected to share best practices.
The hospitals that show the most improvement from baseline will receive an incentive payment, most likely in year 3. Premier has provided seed money for the incentives, said Susan DeVore, the alliance's chief operating officer. The company is in discussions with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to provide more funds.
QUEST results will be made public at some point, though in aggregate only.
“Transparency has arrived and should be considered a good thing for providers,” said Dr. Ken Davis, chief medical officer of North Mississippi Health Services, at the briefing. The Tupelo, Miss.-based hospital is a member of Premier and will be a QUEST participant, he said.