VMS Foundation Awarded $500,000 Grant to Combat Unnecessary and Potentially Harmful Medical Testing

[NOTE: The project detailed below is underway. More details can be found here.]

The Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation has been awarded a $548,829 grant to develop a statewide program that reduces unnecessary and potentially harmful medical testing. 

The grant, awarded by the Vermont Health Care Innovation Project (VHCIP) Grant Program, will be used to launch the Vermont Hospital Medicine Choosing Wisely® Project, a 26-month effort focused on decreasing waste and potential harm in the hospital setting.

“It’s been estimated that approximately 30 percent of health care costs are spent on avoidable wasted care that, if eliminated, would have no adverse affect on quality of care,” said Dr. Cyrus Jordan, director of the VMS Foundation and the grant’s principal investigator.  “That’s a lot of money that does nothing to make patients healthier.  For instance, in 2017 Vermont’s health care expenditures will total about $6 billion, so within that amount there is the potential for savings of close to $2 billion.  This grant will allow us to put plans and procedures in place that will go after saving that money.” 

The principal activity made possible by the grant will be two, 12-month Institute for Healthcare Improvement (ICI) Breakthrough Learning Collaboratives focusing on two or more clinical areas.  The first clinical area will be reducing the performance of repetitive laboratory testing in the face of clinical and lab stability.  The clinical targets of the second Collaborative will be chosen by participating faculty and institutions based on practicality, cost, ROI and potential to avoid waste and improve safety. 
 
Each Collaborative will consist of an initial three-month planning and pre-work phase followed by a nine-month improvement effort consisting of three day-long Learning Sessions and two intervening Action Periods.  The third Learning Session will also serve as an Outcomes Congress giving teams an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and maintain their momentum for future improvement interventions.

In describing the vision behind its Breakthrough Learning Collaboratives, IHI says that, “…sound science exists on the basis of which the costs and outcomes of current health care practices can be greatly improved, but much of this science lies fallow and unused in daily work.  There is a gap between what we know and what we do.  The Breakthrough Series is designed to help organizations close that gap by creating a structure in which interested organizations can easily learn from each other and from recognized experts in topic areas where they want to make improvements.  A Breakthrough Series Collaborative is a short-term (six- to 15-month) learning system that brings together a large number of teams from hospitals or clinics to seek improvement in a focused topic area.”

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