Empire seeks adverse event reduction

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (Empire, New York) said that collaborative efforts are under way with its hospital network that are aimed at helping to eliminate preventable adverse events as defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Quality Forum.

In a letter released in March, as well as conversations that have occurred throughout this year, Empire has expressed its philosophy that while there are inherent risks in the delivery of healthcare, the occurrence of preventable adverse events should be tracked, reduced and ultimately eliminated, and that Empire customers and members should not be obligated to pay for services related to certain clearly preventable adverse events. "Working with our providers on these initiatives will help protect Empire's more than five million members from both the care and cost impact of these avoidable events," the insurer said.

"As we work to finalize and implement our supporting policy and process surrounding adverse events, we will seek input from the New York hospital community in our efforts to align the interests and incentives of all concerned parties," said John Whitney, MD, regional VP of medical affairs and pharmacy for Empire. "We will continue to work collaboratively with physicians and hospitals to analyze why and how these events occur, and to proactively find ways to improve patient safety and clinical care."

Kidney Foundation in new initiative

The National Kidney Foundation (New York) and Amgen (Thousand Oaks, California) reported a new initiative of the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) that will provide important data to help communities address the growing prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The initiative introduces a participant follow-up — or "longitudinal" — component to the National Kidney Foundation's KEEP effort, further strengthening the comprehensive, free kidney disease screening program. The new initiative is made possible by an educational grant from Amgen, KEEP's primary sponsor.

Offered at community-based locations across the country, KEEP provides comprehensive health risk appraisals to assess individuals' kidney function and key risk factors for the disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes. The appraisals are based on blood and urine testing as well as on-site physician consultations. The rapidly expanding program is expected to screen about 40,000 people in 2008 and recently screened its 100,000th participant since the program's inception in 2000.