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Hospitals are sharing data to save lives

A new report shows over the past five years, 350 hospitals have saved more than $11 billion and nearly 150,000 lives by following best practices like how to treat pneumonia and hospital acquired infections.

Five years ago, the firm Premier launched a national quality improvement project for hospitals. The firm’s Blair Childs says through sharing data and adhering to best practices health systems have seen dramatic changes.

Take for example, when bacteria in the hospital leads to the potentially lethal illness, sepsis. “It was the number one driver of mortality in hospitals when we started this project,” says Childs.

Now it’s the 14th leading cause of mortality in the participating hospitals. Hospitals also reported improvements in patient safety and satisfaction.

Leapfrog’s Leah Binder says in the last decade the healthcare industry has made real strides in figuring out the best ways to treat certain conditions. The trouble, she says, is that it can be hard to get hospitals and staff to implement the new protocols.

"To get everybody to follow the rules actually takes a lot of effort and energy. And unfortunately, sometimes organizations don’t invest in that kind of attention and that’s the problem,” she says.

Binder says the Affordable Care Act puts in place what she considers modest incentives to improve quality. She says bigger carrots and sticks are needed to get hospitals attention.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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