Companies to Launch Hospital Bonus Program Aiming to Reduce Medical Errors
Four New York companies today will announce a $2 million program to "encourage" hospitals to reduce medical errors by implementing computerized error-prevention systems, the New York Times reports. Under the program, Verizon Communications, IBM, PepsiCo and Xerox will join with Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield to add a monetary bonus to each payment to hospitals that meet safety standards established by the Leapfrog Group, a national coalition of more than 80 companies and government agencies dedicated to improving health care safety. The four companies cover more than 100,000 employees and their families in 28 counties in eastern New York state and New York City. To qualify for the bonuses, which will equal 4% of charges for patients next year, 3% in 2003 and 2% in 2004, hospitals will have to implement computerized systems for such tasks as ordering tests and prescription drugs and will have to hire intensive care physicians to supervise their "sickest patients."
The Times reports that hospital technology experts are "excited" about the new program and its "possibilities for improving care." Hospital executives, on the other hand, are concerned about costs; expenses for installing computerized systems range from $5 million to $60 million, figures that executives say could far exceed any bonuses. According to Empire, only 7 or 8 of the 148 eligible hospitals will have "complete" computerized physician ordering systems by the program's start date of Jan. 1, and 40 will have intensive care specialists. Theresa Bischoff, president of New York University Hospitals Center and chair of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said, "The challenge for any hospital is that only a small percentage of its patients are covered by [the Leapfrog] employers" (Freudenheim, New York Times, 10/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.