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Berwick: Quest Program Results 'A Breakthrough'

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 20, 2013

In what former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services administrator Don Berwick, MD, called "a breakthrough," hundreds of hospitals in a data- practice-sharing project have shown significant reductions in cost, mortality, and infections.

Some 333 hospitals are participating in the Premier Healthcare Alliance's data- and practice-sharing project called Quest. Premier's President and CEO Susan DeVore says the project has saved 92,000 lives and $9.1 billion, compared with what would be expected for its hospitals.

"What is intuitive in other industries, where if you buy something that doesn't work well it's going to cost you more in the long run, the same is true in healthcare, but people don't seem to get that," Berwick said at a news tele-conference Tuesday.

He added the Quest team has shown "as carefully as it's been done anywhere I've looked, that as quality gets better, and as the patient experience improves on the whole, costs can fall quite a bit."

"Quest is undoubtedly a breakthrough…given how interesting and how unexpectedly good the results are," and if the project goes forward outside acute care settings, "it can be a breakthrough for all American healthcare," he said.

The Quest project began in 2007, with hospitals collecting baseline data for evidence based processes of care, costs and mortality every year. It has published annual and sometimes quarterly reports with transparent data for participating hospitals that allow them to compare themselves, share solutions, initiate strategies for improvement and then measure again the following year to see what worked and what didn't.

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