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On behalf of the millions of Americans for whom many of the nation’s largest corporations and public agencies buy health benefits, The Leapfrog Group uses its members’ collective leverage to initiate breakthrough improvements in the safety, quality, and affordability of healthcare for Americans. Leapfrog mobilizes the combined purchasing power of its members to alert America’s health industry that giant leaps forward in healthcare safety, quality, and value will be recognized and rewarded.
A 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine gave the Leapfrog founders their focus – reducing preventable medical mistakes. “To Err is Human” found that up to 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors made in hospitals. In September 2013, a study in the Journal of Patient Safety found the numbers to be much higher—between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year suffer from preventable harm in hospitals that contributes to their death. Thus, medical errors are now the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer. The initial IOM report recommended that employers provide more market reinforcement for the quality and safety of health care. By rewarding those hospitals that implement proven quality and safety practices, Leapfrog founders realized they could take “leaps” forward in the health and safety of their employees, retirees, and their families.
If all urban hospitals implemented just the first three of Leapfrog’s four original “leaps” (evidence-based safety and quality standards), over 57,000 lives could be saved, more than 3 million medication errors could be avoided, and up to $12.0 billion could be saved each year.1 The Leapfrog Group’s growing consortium of major companies and other large private and public healthcare purchasers provide health benefits to more than 34 million Americans in all 50 states. Leapfrog members and their employees spend tens of billions of dollars on health care annually. Leapfrog members agree to base their purchase of healthcare on principles that encourage quality improvement among providers and consumer involvement in healthcare decision making.
The Leapfrog Group’s mission is to trigger giant leaps forward in the safety, quality, and affordability of healthcare by:
This effort is rooted in four ideas:
Four Leaps in Hospital Quality, Safety, and Affordability
Through the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey, Leapfrog rates hospitals across the country on a range of safety and quality standards. Results from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey are posted on our website and are free to the public.
Endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF), the four original “leaps” are:
Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) With CPOE systems, hospital staff enter medication orders via computers linked to software designed to prevent prescribing errors. CPOE has been shown to reduce serious prescribing errors by more than 50%.
Evidence-Based Hospital Referral (EBHR) Consumers and healthcare purchasers should choose hospitals with the best track records. By referring patients needing certain complex medical procedures to hospitals offering the best survival odds based on scientifically valid criteria—such as the number of times a hospital performs a procedure each year or other process or outcomes data—studies indicate that a patient’s risk of dying could be significantly reduced.
ICU Physician Staffing (IPS) Staffing ICUs with intensivists – doctors who have special training in critical care medicine – has been shown to reduce the risk of patients dying in the ICU by 40%.
NQF Safe Practices The National Quality Forum-endorsed Safe Practices cover a range of practices that, if utilized, would reduce the risk of harm in certain processes, systems, or environments of care. Included in the 34 practices are the three leaps above. This fourth leap assesses a hospital’s progress on eight of the remaining 31 NQF safe practices.
These “leaps” adhere to four criteria: (1) there is scientific evidence that their implementation would significantly reduce preventable mistakes; (2) implementation by the health industry is feasible in the near term; (3) consumers can appreciate their value; and (4) health plans, purchasers, and/or consumers can easily ascertain their presence or absence when assessing healthcare providers. Because the healthcare industry needs time to meet these standards, Leapfrog works with the provider community to arrive at aggressive, but feasible, target dates for implementation of Leapfrog’s recommended quality practices.
The Leapfrog Group began collecting data via the Leapfrog Hospital Survey in June 2001, surveying urban and suburban hospitals in six regions. Today, we have 43 Regional Roll-Outs that target hospitals for participation in almost all 50 states. The full list of regions is available here.
Leapfrog’s 43 regions cover over half of the U.S. population. Over 1,400 hospitals participate in the Survey each year. View Leapfrog Hospital Survey results or find more information on the Leapfrog Hospital Survey.
1Lwin AK, Shepard DS. Estimating Lives and Dollars Saved from Universal Adoption of the Leapfrog Safety and Quality Standards: 2008 Update. The Leapfrog Group. Washington, DC: 2008.