A New Patient and Provider Safety Authority is a National Imperative

After months of collaboration with some of the best minds in U.S. health care, there is no doubt about the need for a dramatic change in our patient safety system. The SWERVE initiative, a partnership between the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) and the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI), has been working since January to develop a solution for America's appalling medical error rate, something that has only been further exacerbated and exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two recent mini summits in July convened the nation's experts on healthcare safety and policy helped to further refine and prepare a proposal for a National Patient and Provider Safety Authority (NPSA).

The first of two mini summits in the month of July brought together 19 leaders from some of the nation's top hospitals and health systems, insurance payers, and the American Medical Association. The group suggested improvements to a proposed draft of the NPSA, explored strategies to support existing patient safety players and provider systems, and brainstormed missing functions of the proposed NPSA. The second mini summit on July 21 was comprised of 24 national leaders at academic and professional institutions, foundations, and technology companies. Building on the work of the first group, the second summit discussed the role of data and analytics in the NPSA, critical powers of the NPSA, and the best strategies to gain support from other stakeholders.

The evolving vision for a NPSA marries artificial intelligence and autonomous technology with the investigatory, research, and education functions of the National Transportation Safety Board. This will enable both prospective forewarning and retrospective study of major medical errors and harm. An NPSA will ultimately work toward anticipating errors and harm before they happen, presenting immediate opportunities for corrective action, and implementing and preventing damage before it occurs.

These latest mini summits conclude a three-part series aimed at drawing national attention and collaboration to the NPSA. The summits were built upon the work of three nationwide conversations at the beginning of the year, that were followed by two advisory committee meetings to narrow the focus. All of these sessions were facilitated by Ken Segel, co-founder and managing partner of Value Capture and the first staff director of PRHI, in rapid-fire format to gather the most critical input from all the attendees. Steven Irwin, JD, co-chair of the PRHI Board, has remained a consistent member and voice throughout the SWERVE summits, providing expert political and strategic advice.

The SWERVE initiative is now working to present a final NPSA proposal to policy members of the presidential candidates' advisory committees, continuing to build on the momentum of national conversations and support for this effort. 

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