Feb 6, 2014
Published in: Medical Care, v. 52, no. 2, suppl. 1, Feb. 2014, p. S17-S24
Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2014
BACKGROUND: In 2009, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs). The Action Plan adopted national targets for reduction of specific infections, making HHS accountable for change across the healthcare system over which federal agencies have limited control. OBJECTIVES: This article examines the unique infrastructure developed through the Action Plan to support adoption of HAI prevention practices. RESEARCH DESIGN: Interviews of federal (n=32) and other stakeholders (n=38), reviews of agency documents and journal articles (n=260), and observations of interagency meetings (n=17) and multistakeholder conferences (n=17) over a 3-year evaluation period. MEASURES: We extract key progress and challenges in the development of national HAI prevention infrastructure—1 of the 4 system functions in our evaluation framework encompassing regulation, payment systems, safety culture, and dissemination and technical assistance. We then identify system properties—for example, coordination and alignment, accountability and incentives, etc.—that enabled or hindered progress within each key development. RESULTS: The Action Plan has developed a model of interagency coordination (including a dedicated "home" and culture of cooperation) at the federal level and infrastructure for stimulating change through the wider healthcare system (including transparency and financial incentives, support of state and regional HAI prevention capacity, changes in safety culture, and mechanisms for stakeholder engagement). Significant challenges to infrastructure development included many related to the same areas of progress. CONCLUSIONS: The Action Plan has built a foundation of infrastructure to expand prevention of HAIs and presents useful lessons for other large-scale improvement initiatives.