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HSAG Hospital Quality Improvement Contract (HQIC)

If your question is not answered in the FAQs below, please send your query to: 


1.  What is the HQIC?

The HQIC is the Hospital Quality Improvement Contract that defines and funds CMS’ quality improvement partnership for acute care facilities. Nine organizations have been defined as contract awardees to support eligible hospitals under the support contract. HSAG was awarded the HQIC in September 2020.


2.    Who can participate in the HQIC partnership?

The acute care facilities eligible to participate in this partnership are small and rural providers, as well as those serving vulnerable populations.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) identified these facilities based on their location, the socio-economic status of their patients (high percentage of Medicare/Medicaid dual-eligible patients), and their star rating performance in the last four years.


3.    How does HSAG plan to provide support for such a diverse hospital population?

The HSAG HQIC team is aware of the diverse hospitals populations they will serve during this program.

The educational program will be differentiated between critical access and rural hospitals and those serving vulnerable populations, as needed. In addition, HSAG will provide data-driven peer-to-peer performance comparisons so hospitals can evaluate their performance in relation to similar hospitals.


4.    How long is the HSAG HQIC and when do you plan to start providing support? Could the pandemic situation delay the program?

This HQIC spans four years from September 2020 to 2024.

The operational support provided to the participating hospitals will start in January 2021.

HSAG has provided technical assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic response since March 2020. HSAG partners with multiple stakeholders to provide Medicare providers support with their pandemic response and preparedness at the level of their community, as well as infection control/prevention in their organizations. HSAG will pursue these efforts until the pandemic recedes and participating hospitals are able to shift their time and resources to more long-term and sustainable quality improvement initiatives.


5.    Is the participation of eligible hospitals in the HQIC partnership mandatory? How much does participation cost?

Even though participation in HQIC is not mandatory, CMS strongly suggests that eligible hospitals partner with an HQIC provider. In addition, because it is funded through CMS, participation is at no cost to your organization.


6.    Why do I have to sign a participation agreement (PA)?

The PA is not a binding legal contract but an “agreement” to participate in the partnership and receive services from HSAG.


7.    Do participating hospitals need to sign a Data Use Agreement (DUA)?

Yes, all participating hospitals will need to complete and sign DUA.

The participating hospital agrees to permit access or provide data in accordance with the  DUA and to permit HSAG to measure and track hospital performance. The hospital agrees to submit data to HSAG via secure file transfer protocol.

HSAG agrees to comply with all the federal regulatory and contractual confidentiality requirements, included in the DUA.


8.    Do participating hospitals need to dedicate information technology (IT) resources for data collection and transfer?

One of the CMS priorities is to reduce provider burden. If there are any data requests from CMS, HSAG will facilitate the data extraction in an effective and timely manner. HSAG  will help create queriers and the needed data extraction files to automate the process.


9.    How much time do hospitals need to dedicate to the partnership?

The level of participation is determined by the facility’s capacity and needs.

All planned activities are a ‘’menu’’ style for participating hospitals to choose what areas in which they would like to and could participate.

To best support your quality improvement efforts, we strongly suggest you meet with your assigned HSAG advisor once a month/every-other-month, based on your availability.


10.  How will HSAG HQIC will support hospitals that are part of a system? Could the other non-eligible facilities benefit from the HQIC partnership?

HSAG staff will work with both system and facility quality leaders to ensure that you find value for not just the eligible hospitals, but across your system. In the case in which some of the facilities of a system were not selected by CMS as eligible, they will have access to a diverse range of educational materials (e.g., on-demand content, tools, webinars).