Colorado Cited for Model Health Care

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[Photo courtesy Denver Health]

The Obama administration is citing two Colorado programs as models for improving health care quality and reducing medical errors. Colorado Public Radio Health Reporter Eric Whitney says it's part of a new, billion dollar, nationwide effort.

WHITNEY: Federal health officals announced a new, billion dollar intiative to improve health care quality and patient safety Tuesday. It's part of the Affordable Care Act President Obama signed last year. It aims to cut medical errors by 40%.
It's second goal is to reduce the number of people who have to be re-admitted to hospitals shortly after they're discharged.

The plan to reduce re-admissions was engineered by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who got the idea from health care providers here. Federal Medicaid Director Donald Berwick says it works.

BERWICK: a project in Denver, Colorado that assures seamless care from hospital to home has cut Medicare re-admissions there by 9.3%, part of a 14 city demonstration that has already saved $100 million by providing better care.

WHITNEY: Health care organizations that adopt model quality and safety initiatives like the demonstrations can get federal grant money to help. One model the White House is praising is Denver Health's approach. It's CEO, Dr. Patricia Gabow was at the press conference announcing the new funding. She says Denver Health uses a quality improvement system developed by Toyota. It helps them to do things like reduce the risk of dangerous blood clots.

GABOW: We have now achieved one of the lowest rates of this complication, and reduced costs by $15,000 a month. Demonstrating the link between safer care and lower costs.

WHITNEY: The Obama administration says investing a billion dollars in patient safety improvments could save the health system up to $35 billion nationwide.
Republicans are generally skeptical of White House strategies to reduce health care costs. Colorado Republicans in Congress say they want the Affordable Care Act repealed.