The February 2021 issue of the Hospital Quality Improvement Newsletter featuring the latest insights and resources.  


Welcome to the Alliant Quality HQIC Newsletter!

We’re thrilled to be working together to make health care better. Over the next four years, the Hospital Quality Improvement Contractors (HQICs) will be working to improve behavioral health outcomes with a focus on decreased opioid misuse, patient safety with emphasis on reduction of harm, and care transitions with a focus on high utilizers.

HQIC supports rural, critical access hospitals and hospitals that are serving vulnerable populations. We are committed to being responsive to your needs with customized 1:1 technical assistance and quality improvement coaching, virtual meetings, and Learning and Action Network (LAN) events, which will begin this month. 

This monthly newsletter highlights the latest insights, resources, and evidence-based best practices. Our hope is that this newsletter makes it easy for you to stay on top of trends and allows you to provide the best possible care for those you work with and serve. 

2021 Special Enrollment Period in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency

In accordance with the Executive Order issued last month by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) determined that the COVID-19 emergency presents exceptional circumstances for consumers in accessing health insurance and will provide a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals and families to apply and enroll in the coverage they need.

Starting February 15, 2021 and continuing through May 15, 2021, Marketplaces using the platform will operationalize functionality to make a SEP available to all Marketplace-eligible consumers who are submitting a new application or updating an existing application. Read More


Hospital Quality Improvement Learning and Action Network (LAN Event) 
  • Developing a Business Case for Infection Prevention Resources: What We Learned from COVID-19
    Tuesday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET
    This webinar will assist Infection Prevention teams in developing an effective business case in order to maintain day-to-day operations and continue to respond effectively to COVID-19.
    Register Now

Partner Events
  • Racial Disparities at Every Stage of COVID-19: Infections, Hospitalizations, Death Rates… and Now the Vaccine 
    Monday, February 8 at 12:00 p.m. ET 
    This webinar sponsored by Emory University will discuss how the existing racial disparities and health inequities in our country have amplified the effects of COVID-19, and discuss ways minority community leaders, especially in the medical profession, are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts. 
    Register Now

Education & Training 

Behavioral Health

Treatments for Acute Pain: A Systematic Review
A new report from AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Center Program examined the evidence of the effectiveness and potential harms of treatments used to control pain from dental procedures, kidney stones, lower back injuries, sickle cell anemia and other pain. Read Findings

5-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Combatting the opioid crisis is one of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) top priorities. The 5-Point Strategy was designed to empower local communities on the frontlines. Learn More

CDC Health Advisory
Fatal drug overdoses caused by synthetic opioids continue to rise in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more by reviewing the official health advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read Advisory

Patient Safety

Join the Alliant Quality NHSN Group! 
Join the group and confer rights to Alliant Quality to view NHSN data allows for seamless support and technical assistance. Our step-by-step guide walks you through the process. Download Guide

Immunization Information System (IIS) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is your office or facility using your state IIS (immunization information system) or registry? The free state registry offers benefits including time and money savings and communication potential. Read the FAQ we developed to learn more. Download FAQ

Avoiding the Medicare Readmissions Penalty
Does your hospital own or manage a nursing home? Alliant Health Solutions’ Dr. Kimberly Rask recently gave a presentation on how to recognize and prevent causal events leading to Emergency Department visits and rehospitalizations among long-term care residents. Download Slides 

COVID-19: An Emerging Threat to Antibiotic Stewardship in the Emergency Department
A recent editorial authored by a team from the University of Wisconsin Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School states, “The ongoing pandemic is exacerbating known barriers to optimal antibiotic stewardship in the ED, representing an additional direct threat to patient safety and public health.” Read Full Article

February is American Heart Health Month
American Heart Health Month is observed every February to raise awareness about heart health and to encourage healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease is the top cause of death in the United States. This month is also used to highlight and eliminate health disparities; for example, people just ZIP codes apart can live 25 years less than their neighbors with similar heart conditions. 
Million Hearts® Cardiac Rehabilitation Change Package
Million Hearts has developed a change package to assist teams from hospitals and cardiac rehabilitation programs put systems and strategies in place that target improved care for more eligible patients. It presents a listing of process improvements that cardiac rehabilitation champions can implement and includes change concepts, change ideas, and tools and resources.
Share Your Cardiac Rehab Success Story with Us!
Do you have a success story concerning your work in improving your cardiac rehabilitation program? If so, please share with us at

Quality of Care Transitions

Post Hospital HF Follow-Up Clinic to Reduce Readmissions
Heart failure patients are most likely to return to the hospital within 30 days. Several evidence-based programs using heart failure follow-up clinics and pharmacies have proven effective in reducing readmissions. Read More

Public Health Emergency Information & Resources

COVID-19 Care

National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN)
Alliant Health Solutions is partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) on a national initiative to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. As an NCRN community partner, we invite everyone to join, engage, and subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates and information. It will take a collaborative effort to combat the negative impact of this pandemic. Subscribe Now

Populations Needing Extra Precautions During COVID-19
The CDC has created several resources and recommendations about extra precautions for those at higher risk of suffering more severe outcomes of COVID-19, including the elderly, individuals with specific health conditions, and minority populations. Access Now

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
  • Alliant Quality COVID-19 Vaccine Resources 
    Curated resources and best practices to support long-term care facilities, clinics, providers, and staff as they navigate vaccine distribution. Alliant Quality COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
  • Information from CMS
    Find the latest information from CMS about the COVID-19 vaccine: CMS COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage
  • CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit
    The CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit has been updated with an addendum to address proper storage, handling, transport, and emergency handling of COVID-19 vaccines. The addendum will be updated as new COVID-19 vaccine products are approved. Bookmark the page and check back regularly for the most current version of the toolkit: CDC Vaccine Storage Webpage
  • 8 Things to Know about the US COVID Vaccination Program
    There are lots of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, so the CDC put together a list of the eight things you should know. Read More
  • What Every Clinician Needs to Know About COVID-19 Vaccine
    The CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) branch had an emergency presentation on "What Every Clinician Needs to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine." The recording is posted for on-demand viewing. Access Now

Leadership Corner

This month’s Leadership Corner article is written by Kathy McGowan, VP of Quality & Patient Safety for the Georgia Hospital Association. 

As we embark on the Hospital Quality Improvement Contract (HQIC), the latest CMS quality initiative, we are once again reminded of the importance of leadership when it comes to achieving success. A talented and passionate individual can only go so far without the enthusiastic support of supervisors, managers, and directors. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new layer of minutia for recruiting staff for our hospitals. Not only is leadership challenged with low PPE supplies and overcrowding of COVID-19 patients, but there is also a lack of appropriate staff to care for the patients. On top of all that, our hospital leaders must manage the logistics and hurdles of vaccine distribution. Despite these challenges, we are asking them to join the HQIC with the hope of ameliorating some of the difficulties experienced by our hospitals and their staff. 

Read More

Wellness Resources​​​

Cardiac Risk Calculators 
Sharing heart disease risk calculators with patients can help them understand concerns about their risk factors. In recognition of American Heart Month, take a look at these calculators from The American Heart Association and The Mayo Clinic. ​​​​The American Heart Association | The Mayo Clinic 

Psychological PPE
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of PPE when it comes to keeping the health care work force safe. It also exacerbated existing issues with health care professional burnout. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) put together recommendations for “psychological PPE” to help protect staff mental health. Read More

Hospital Quality Improvement Project Collaborators

For more information about Alliant Quality, visit the website:

For questions or information about free technical assistance, please contact: 

Donna Cohen, Director, Quality Projects

Karen Holtz, Training and Education Lead, Hospital Quality

This material was prepared by Alliant Quality, the quality improvement group of Alliant Health Solutions (AHS), the Hospital Quality Improvement Contractor (HQIC) under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents presented do not necessarily reflect CMS policy. Publication No. AHSHQIC-TO3H-21-456
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