Hospital Quality Improvement Contractor (HQIC)

The intent of Medicare’s Hospital Quality Initiative is to improve the quality of care that hospitals provide while collecting and reporting clearly defined and objective hospital performance data. Sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Hospital Quality Improvement Contractor (HQIC) initiative is designed to support rural, critical access hospitals, rural emergency hospitals, and those hospitals that are low performing and serve vulnerable populations in achieving measurable outcomes under the rubrics of patient safety, addressing the opioid epidemic, and care transitions. The HQIC initiative also assists hospitals during public health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic, by supporting pandemic response and preparedness and identifying and disseminating best practices.

As a subcontractor to Convergence Health Consulting, AIR tracks hospital performance and analyzes performance data to determine hospital’s percent reduction in harms to patients and identify hospitals performing well and those requiring assistance. Data collection and analysis contribute to the understanding and promotion of effective rural hospital quality improvement strategies, and AIR-created data reports are used to guide and provide direct technical assistance to individual hospitals needing support. AIR collects quality measures through a variety of sources, including the National Healthcare Safety Network, CMS claims data, and 11 state hospital associations, which gather performance data directly from their participating hospitals. AIR also obtains data related to the COVID-19 pandemic and hospital capacity from the federal HHS Protect Data Hub.