Performance Improvement Driven by HIIN Participation


There were smiles all around as nurses, physicians and other clinical staff at a Florida hospital gathered in a conference room for a short congratulatory speech and a quick bite of cake before getting back to the business of taking care of patients.

The reason for the celebration: Zero incidents of Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs) in a month.

That this result is a cause for celebration speaks to the enormity of the challenge of reducing hospital-acquired infections and the strong commitment hospitals are making to lower their incidence in their facilities.

Leading the charge to reduce 11 specific areas of patient harm, termed hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), are CMS-designated Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks (HIINs) that are part of a larger CMS initiative called the Partnership for Patients. “Participating in a HIIN accelerates a hospital’s ability to improve performance in these areas,” said Cindy Abel, vice president, improvement collaboratives at Vizient. “It’s a big support system for organizations trying to improve in these very complex areas.”

The specific areas of harm HIIN seeks to reduce are:
• Adverse drug events
• Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
• Central line-associated blood stream infections
• Injuries from falls and immobility
• Pressure ulcers
• Surgical site infections
• Venous thromboembolism
• Ventilator-associated events
• Severe sepsis and septic shock
• Clostridium difficile
• All-cause readmissions

Bounty of benefits
Some organizations have yet to join a HIIN. Commonly, organizations wrestle with a substantial amount of competing performance improvement (PI) priorities. “It’s easier to focus on reducing harm if your organization is in a HIIN,” Abel said. “In a group, you’ll improve faster and advance performance further because of the accountability factor.”

Likewise, data collection or sharing data with outside partners can be a challenge for members. “Vizient’s HIIN can reduce the data collection burden,” Abel added. “Vizient can take in member data, assess current performance, and use the resource strength of the organization to offer both content delivery and subject matter expertise to help them reach their goals. We’re building on work we’ve been doing for a long time, and we have a lot of experience and leading strategies to share with participants. Additionally, our HIIN members also have achieved significant results that benefit other members who join us.”

“It really makes sense for members to join a HIIN and reap the benefits of collaborating with others, especially if they are not currently performing well and may be subject to financial penalties from CMS,” she said.

Participants in a HIIN experience many learning and collaborative opportunities, the ability to network with members and the chance to learn from subject matter experts about creative improvement strategies for HACs they may not otherwise realize on their own.

“Vizient coordinates a high level of support so organizations can reduce their instances of harm by figuring out their strengths and weaknesses and then bringing in a performance improvement advisor to help chart a course for success,” said Kelly Faulkner, associate vice president, programs at Vizient.

The advisor operates as a coach helping with everything from developing individual facility strategies that address specific HACs to guiding teams from multiple facilities toward improvement.

“We meet the member where they are to build an improvement plan,” said Faulkner.

While participating in a HIIN is voluntary, CMS closely monitors participation and strongly encourages every acute care hospital to be actively working toward reducing incidents of patient harm through participation in a HIIN.

“Some of the organizations in our HIIN also join a Patient Safety Organization (PSO). While this may seem redundant, it is actually a complement because the PSO offers certain legal protections when teams discuss a harm event, whereas HIIN enables them the opportunity to actively work with other organizations who are also working in the specific areas of improvement,” Abel said. “We currently have 271 hospitals enrolled in our HIIN and would always welcome additional participants. If your organization has yet to join a HIIN, we would welcome you to join us.”

For more information about how to join the Vizient HIIN, please contact

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