Published in the June 2006 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
A month or so ago, a report in Modern Healthcare magazine noted that
the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), the standard-setter in quality
improvement, predicted it was going to miss its highly publicized goal of saving
100,000 lives as part of its 100K Lives campaign.
The 18-month initiative had aimed to enroll 1,600 U.S. hospitals in an effort
to encourage the adoption of strategies like rapid response teams and best
practices to treat “and prevent “high-risk conditions like heart attacks and
While the campaign will likely miss its goal of saving 100,000 lives, it will
probably reach a figure that’s closer to 61,000. That’s a significant number, but
it nonetheless falls short of the earlier goal, which one IHI official told me would
be relatively easy to meet.
This is clearly not a dire moment for the quality improvement movement. The
IHI’s campaign, after all, has been a success on many fronts, from helping
hospitals adopt best practices to reducing infection rates. And the fact that the IHI
enrolled nearly twice as many hospitals in the campaign as it had hoped shows
there is interest in this type of initiative.
The bottom line, however, is that the campaign failed to reach a goal that
seemed to be well within reach. That raises some interesting questions about the
level of commitment to quality improvement in U.S. health care.
What does this mean for hospitalists, a group of physicians that is increasingly
known for its involvement in quality improvement issues? It not only points out the
work that remains to be done in U.S. hospitals, but the unique opportunity for a
specialty like hospital medicine to step in and help drive that progress.
Editor and Publisher