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The Leapfrog Group is an initiative driven by organizations that buy health care who are working to initiate breakthrough improvements in the safety, quality and affordability of healthcare for Americans. Leapfrog is a member supported program aimed at mobilizing employer purchasing power to alert America’s health industry that big leaps in health care safety, quality and customer value will be recognized and rewarded. The Leapfrog Group was founded by a small group of large employers, initially supported by the Business Roundtable (BRT) and launched in November 2000. Leapfrog is supported by the BRT, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Leapfrog members and others.
A 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine gave the Leapfrog founders an initial focus – reducing preventable medical mistakes. The report found that up to 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors made in hospitals alone. In fact, there are more deaths in hospitals each year from preventable medical mistakes than there are from vehicle accidents, breast cancer and AIDS. The report recommended that large employers provide more market reinforcement for the quality and safety of health care. Leapfrog’s founders realized that they could take “leaps” forward with their employees, retirees and families by rewarding hospitals that implement significant improvements in quality and safety.
The Leapfrog Group’s growing consortium of major companies and other large private and public healthcare purchasers provide health benefits to more than 37 million Americans in all 50 states. Leapfrog members and their employees spend tens of billions of dollars on health care annually. Leapfrog members have agreed to base their purchase of health care on principles that encourage quality improvement among providers and consumer involvement. If all hospitals implemented just the first three of Leapfrog’s four “leaps” or recommended quality and safety practices: 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 (Lwin 2008) each year.
The Leapfrog Group’s mission is to trigger giant leaps forward in the safety, quality and affordability of health care by:
This effort is rooted in four ideas:
Four Leaps in Hospital Quality, Safety and Affordability
A range of hospital quality and safety practices are the focus of Leapfrog’s hospital ratings via the Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey, as well as our hospital recognition and reward programs. Endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF), the practices are: computer physician order entry; evidence-based hospital referral; intensive care unit (ICU) staffing by physicians experienced in critical care medicine; and the Leapfrog Safe Practices Score.
Our leaps adhere to four primary criteria. (1) There is overwhelming scientific evidence that these quality and safety leaps will significantly reduce preventable medical mistakes. (2) Their implementation by the health industry is feasible in the near term. (3) Consumers can readily appreciate their value. (4) Health plans, purchasers or consumers can easily ascertain their presence or absence in selecting among health care providers. These leaps are a practical first step in using purchasing power to improve hospital safety and quality.
Because the health industry needs time to meet these standards, Leapfrog purchasers are working with the provider community to arrive at aggressive but feasible target dates for implementation of Leapfrog’s recommended quality practices.
Buying Right: Leapfrog’s Purchasing Principles
Leapfrog’s member companies agree to adhere to the following four purchasing principles in buying health care for their enrollees:
To help advance the purchasing principles, the Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program allows implementers to reward hospitals that demonstrate excellence and/or sustained quality and efficiency improvement. It is an off-the-shelf pay for performance program that drives improvements in hospital quality and efficiency in five clinical areas while demonstrating dollar savings as performance improves. For more information, visit the Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program webpage.
The Leapfrog Group began collecting hospital data in June 2001 by surveying urban and suburban hospitals in six regions. Today, we operate in 38. (To view the list of regions, visit http://www.leapfroggroup.org/for_members/members_resources/regional_roll_outs.) Leapfrog’s 38 regions cover over half of the US population and 62% of all hospital beds in the country. Currently, approximatley 1,300 hospitals participate in the Survey. To view hospitals ratings, visit http://www.leapfroggroup.org/cp.