The buzzword these days in quality improvement is "HEN," and you may be wondering what exactly that means. The American Hospital Association's Health Research & Educational Trust recently was awarded a contract by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to support its Partnership for Patients campaign by serving as a Hospital Engagement Network, or HEN. The Partnership is a public-private venture that aims to improve the quality, safety and affordability of health care. The project seeks to help hospitals adopt practices that have the potential to reduce inpatient harm by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent.

Specifically, the Partnership will focus on 10 areas for quality improvement: adverse drug events; catheter-associated urinary tract infections, or CAUTI; central line-associated blood stream infections, or CLABSI; injuries from falls and immobility; obstetrical adverse events; pressure ulcers; surgical-site infections; venous thromboembolism; ventilator-associated pneumonia; and preventable readmissions.

As the leader of a HEN with nearly 1,800 hospital participants recruited by HRET's 33 state hospital association partners, HRET will help identify solutions already working to reduce health care-acquired conditions, and share them with other hospitals and health care providers. HENs will develop learning collaboratives for hospitals and provide an array of initiatives and activities to improve patient safety. Intensive training programs will be conducted to teach hospitals to make patient care safer, provide technical assistance so that hospitals can achieve quality measurement goals, and establish a system to track progress in meeting goals.

Improving patient care long has been the joint goal of AHA and HRET. The HEN builds on several national efforts already in place that are showing results in reducing CLABSI and CAUTI. AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative has accelerated performance improvement for the field, and the HEN will advance that effort and offer hospitals new tools to further the high-quality care they already provide.

Patients will be the true beneficia-ries because better care will improve their lives. For more information, visit

Kimberly McNally, R.N., M.N. (, is COG chair and a trustee of Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine, Seattle.