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IBM Partner Premier Healthcare Alliance Helps Members Save Nearly $1.4 Billion

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Record savings achieved through participation in collaborative programs, use of solutions combining clinical, supply chain, and operational data to enhance performance.

By providing higher quality, more cost-effective care, hospitals and health system members of the Premier healthcare alliance achieved a record combined member-validated savings of nearly $1.4 billion in its fiscal 2010.

Over the past year, the alliance, which has partnered with IBM on cost-cutting initiatives, grew to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals and 73,000-plus other healthcare sites that use the power of collaboration to make significant quality and cost improvements.

“Our industry continues to face challenges in integrating clinical practices, lowering costs and, above all, making people healthier," said Premier board chair Michael Connelly, president and CEO of Catholic Health Partners, a 33-hospital system based in Cincinnati. “We’re benefitting from the nationwide knowledge and support that this membership offers, and it’s making a clear impact on the quality and cost-effectiveness of the care we provide."

Said Premier's president and CEO Susan DeVore, “Too often the healthcare debate focuses on what’s wrong in the current system, though there is much being done right. Members of the Premier alliance exist to improve community health by delivering quality service that keeps patients out of the hospital or ensures they are getting back home safe and sound, all the while making care more affordable.”

Integrating clinical, supply and operational information

Premier members are benefitting from Premier’s unique ability to combine clinical and supply chain data to improve performance. Working with Premier Consulting Solutions, Heartland Regional Medical Center of St. Joseph, Mo., improved care quality and safety in their cardiovascular services and saved more than $3.3 million using Premier’s integrated technologies. Additionally, SSM Wisconsin saved more than $2.2 million and Presbyterian Healthcare Services of Albuquerque, N.M., identified nearly $2 million in savings with supply chain and clinical improvement data.

Providers that joined the alliance or expanded their partnership with Premier over the previous year include:

  • Valley Medical Center, which left Premier for MedAssets in 2007, only to restore its Premier membership and save more than $1 million in just 45 days.
  • Continuum Health Partners Inc., formerly a Broadlane/MedAssets member, signed a six-year contract with Premier and GNYHA Services for group purchasing of medical/surgical/pharmaceutical supplies. They also joined Premier’s QualityConnect™ program.
  • Marshfield Clinic, one of the largest private group medical practices in Wisconsin and in the U.S., joined Premier as an owner.
  • Billings Clinic a multi-specialty physician group practice and 270-bed hospital, confirmed its ownership in Premier.
  • Hartford HealthCare, a nonprofit hospital system in Connecticut, announced a seven-year contract with GNYHA Services, Premier and Nexera. They also joined Premier programs that reduce costs while supporting continuous improvements in clinical quality and patient safety.

Efficiencies and savings

Premier's supply chain efficiency efforts with members resulted in Premier returning a record $282 million in cash distributions to its owner not-for-profit hospitals and health systems in its fiscal 2010. Total member supply spend exceeded $36 billion in 2010.

To date, approximately 200 hospitals and health systems representing more than $3.7 billion in supply chain purchasing volume have joined Premier's ASCEND (Accelerated Supply Chain Endeavor) program, designed to help participants achieve and sustain rapid improvements in supply chain performance and efficiency. ASCEND participants saved more than $23 million in one year while identifying a potential $5.5 million in savings through proper standardization and utilization of trash can liners alone.

Over the past year, 1,400 members participating in Premier’s failure-to-supply pharmacy program saved more than $3.5 million. Premier's PharmacyConnect pharmacy support program launched the failure-to-supply initiative to help alliance members optimize recovery for drug shortage costs.

In its fiscal 2010, Premier’s Continuum of Care program added 8,400 new non-acute care members for a total of 72,500. The new members represent $1 billion of Premier's Continuum of Care $6.3 billion annual supply purchasing spend.

Performance improvement collaboratives and solutions

In November, Premier released results from its QUEST®: High Performing Hospitals collaborative. In just two years, 157 QUEST hospitals saved an estimated 22,164 lives and reduced healthcare spending by $2.13 billion. QUEST participants' observed mortality is 5 percent lower than non-participants when compared to what was expected. At the same time, national costs for inpatient care have increased by 14 percent over the course of the project, compared to a mere 2 percent cost increase among the QUEST hospitals.

Premier launched its Accountable Care Implementation Collaborative and Accountable Care Readiness Collaborative in 2010. Overall, approximately 85 health systems representing more than 320 hospitals are working to improve population health status through enhanced care coordination, efficiency, quality and patient satisfaction.

In part motivated by an overall drive toward accountable care, Premier has embarked in an industry-leading partnership with IBM to integrate health information on a single data platform across member hospitals and other healthcare sites to gain insights on, measure and improve the health of the population.

Participants in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)/Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration™ (HQID) value-based purchasing project continue to improve patient outcomes. HQID served as a basis for CMS' proposal to Congress for a national value-based purchasing program. With more than five years of experience as part of the program, participants also helped to inform the implementing of regulations for value-based purchasing, which were announced earlier this year.

Hospitals participating in QualityConnect and LaborConnect saved more than $400 million last year through improvements in clinical performance and enhancements to professional practice evaluation, as well as labor productivity and management.

Premier’s SafetyConnect helps providers avoid Medicare payment penalties and cut costs by working to reduce healthcare-associated infections. McLeod Health recently decided to more effectively monitor their infection data with SafetyConnect’s automated solution.

The Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality awarded a three-year demonstration grant to extend the Premier Perinatal Safety Initiative.

Additionally, 87 Premier hospital and health system members of Premier Insurance Management Services Inc. saved $4 million by participating in sponsored insurance programs last year. 

IBM and the Premier healthcare alliance announced last January plans to integrate health information from across hospitals and other healthcare sites. More than 2,400 hospitals and thousands of other healthcare sites are benefiting from this model to help improve clinical outcomes, reduce waste and prepare for new methods of delivering care required by health reform.

IBM and Premier are developing an industry-first technology platform to gain insights on, measure and improve the health of the population. This is supporting hospitals, doctors and other health providers in working together to enhance patient safety while reducing the overuse of procedures, readmissions, unnecessary ER visits and hospital-acquired conditions. 

Recent research from the Institute of Medicine and the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests enhanced use of health data is needed to reduce fragmentation of medical information that results in higher medical costs and increased likelihood of adverse medical events. In most healthcare settings, the data needed to make these improvements is stored in many different formats and multiple locations. This same information also needs to be made more accessible to support accountable care organizations mandated under the Affordable Care Act that reimburse providers for quality of care, not volume of care. 

According to Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM healthcare and life sciences, "Without access to this data, the majority of providers simply cannot offer the type of accountable care that regulations require and patients deserve. Our work with Premier will help clinical, administrative and financial decision makers easily and efficiently access information that could improve care. This is a necessity to transform healthcare delivery, bending the cost curve while improving the quality of care." 

The initiative will access Premier's clinical, financial and operational comparative database, the nation's largest compilation of inpatient data containing nearly 20 percent of all U.S. hospital discharges. It will also incorporate non-hospital data (physician practice and other ambulatory settings) and health plan data. Examples of this data include:

  • Clinical data regarding how care was delivered and related outcomes;
  • Supply chain data that incorporates clinical outcomes with costs; and
  • Operational data regarding labor efficiency and overall operating costs.

The new industry standard, pre-integrated platform for data acquisition, transformation, real-time validation and meaningful metrics is built on the IBM Health Integration Framework. It is powered by IBM Smarter Analytics System with DB2 data warehouse. The IBM information management portfolio will be used to acquire, transform, validate and populate the jointly developed healthcare data model. Initiate software master data management and WebSphere Healthcare ESB provide a single view of the constituent or entity, identity resolution and data acquisition. WebSphere software provides clinical and business rules management. Tivoli software provides security and service management. Application development is built upon Rational software and a common user experience and collaboration is provided through Lotus software. The entire system runs on IBM POWER7 technology.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient Premier healthcare alliance is a performance improvement alliance of more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals and 73,000-plus other healthcare sites using the power of collaboration to lead the transformation to high quality, cost-effective care. Owned by hospitals, health systems and other providers, Premier maintains the nation's most comprehensive repository of clinical, financial and outcomes information and operates a leading healthcare purchasing network. A world leader in helping deliver measurable improvements in care, Premier has worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the United Kingdom's National Health Service North West to improve hospital performance. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Premier also has an office in Washington. http://www.premierinc.com. Stay connected with Premier on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.



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