Berwick Urges Emphasis on Quality

03.02.2011 -

To help achieve what he called “systemic change” in healthcare, CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick said hospital trustees and C-suite leaders should make quality a strategy and consider it when they think about their budgets.

In his interview with moderator Marilyn Werber Serafini of the Kaiser Family Foundation, Berwick discussed how America built its healthcare system in fragmented pieces—focusing on hospitals, physicians, nurses and other disciplines—and how that system no longer works as healthcare has evolved. The solution, he said, is quality.

Citing a recent success in the quality arena, Berwick said rates of central line infections among intensive-care unit patients fell 58% to 18,000 in 2009 from 43,000 in 2001, which the CDC said has saved some 27,000 lives and about $1.8 billion in excess healthcare costs. Central line infections has been a focus of quality measurement by the Leapfrog Group.

Berwick also described steps CMS has taken, and will take, to improve quality, such as rolling out the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; making improvements to the agency's Hospital Compare website; and changing payments to reward quality and penalize high re-admissions and HAIs.

National Journal LIVE presents a panel discussion on the effect of healthcare-associated infections on the quality and cost of healthcare delivery in the United States featuring Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, followed by a panel discussion. Watch the entire event below.