SEP-1 Update: Inclusion in Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program Would be a Victory for Patients

February 1, 2023

UPDATE: On May 1, 2023, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took a next step towards incorporating SEP-1 into its hospital value-based purchasing (VBP) program. In a published proposal, CMS proposed that SEP-1 be adopted into the VBP program beginning in 2026, just as the National Quality Forum (NQF) recommended. Although CMS is still making its final decision, this proposal is a promising indication of where SEP-1 may be headed in the future. 

On January 25, 2023, the National Quality Forum (NQF), an organization that works to ensure patient protections and overall healthcare quality, strongly recommended SEP-1 for inclusion in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) hospital value-based purchasing (VBP) program. This will benefit patients with sepsis, helping to save more lives and limbs. It is the latest in a series of promising NQF votes about SEP-1’s future.  

SEP-1 is shorthand for “The Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock Early Management Bundle.” It lays out a process for clinicians in hospitals that focuses on timely sepsis recognition and early intervention with lifesaving therapies, like a fast first dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Because of this emphasis on timing, SEP-1 is lifesaving, and Sepsis Alliance has long supported its continued use in hospitals. 

The VBP incentivizes hospitals to give patients higher quality care according to their performance on certain processes, such as SEP-1. According to CMS, the program is designed to make the quality of care better for hospital patients, and to make hospital stays a better experience for patients. 

Last week, SEP-1 was recommended for inclusion in the VBP with an overwhelming vote of 21-2. This follows several positive and supportive decisions from NQF about SEP-1 within the last year. Sepsis Alliance is very encouraged that sepsis patient advocates are being heard by NQF.  

Much work still needs to be done. Sepsis Alliance will continue to educate about SEP-1’s importance and work to ensure its continued use in hospitals. But for now, as a part of the VBP, high-quality sepsis care for patients will be incentivized by CMS, and SEP-1 will help to ensure that high-quality sepsis care is being given to the patients who most need it. This recommendation is a big victory – for Sepsis Alliance, for our partners, and for the next patient who walks through the hospital door with signs of sepsis.   

Want to learn more about SEP-1, including its history of opposition and support? Click here 

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