A comparison of three methods of setting prescribing budgets, using data derived from defined daily dose analyses of historic patterns of use.
BACKGROUND: Prescribing matters (particularly budget setting and research into prescribing variation between doctors) have been handicapped by the absence of credible measures of the volume of drugs prescribed. AIM: To use the defined daily dose (DDD) method to study variation in the volume and cost of drugs prescribed across the seven main British National Formulary (BNF) chapters with a view to comparing different methods of setting prescribing budgets. METHOD: Study of one year of prescribing statistics from all 129 general practices in Lothian, covering 808,059 patients: analyses of prescribing statistics for 1995 to define volume and cost/volume of prescribing for one year for 10 groups of practices defined by the age and deprivation status of their patients, for seven BNF chapters; creation of prescribing budgets for 1996 for each individual practice based on the use of target volume and cost statistics; comparison of 1996 DDD-based budgets with those set using the conventional historical approach; and comparison of DDD-based budgets with budgets set using a capitation-based formula derived from local cost/patient information. RESULTS: The volume of drugs prescribed was affected by the age structure of the practices in BNF Chapters 1 (gastrointestinal), 2 (cardiovascular), and 6 (endocrine), and by deprivation structure for BNF Chapters 3 (respiratory) and 4 (central nervous system). Costs per DDD in the major BNF chapters were largely independent of age, deprivation structure, or fundholding status. Capitation and DDD-based budgets were similar to each other, but both differed substantially from historic budgets. One practice in seven gained or lost more than 100,000 Pounds per annum using DDD or capitation budgets compared with historic budgets. The DDD-based budget, but not the capitation-based budget, can be used to set volume-specific prescribing targets. CONCLUSIONS: DDD-based and capitation-based prescribing budgets can be set using a simple explanatory model and generalizable methods. In this study, both differed substantially from historic budgets. DDD budgets could be created to accommodate new prescribing strategies and raised or lowered to reflect local intentions to alter overall prescribing volume or cost targets. We recommend that future work on setting budgets and researching prescribing variations should be based on DDD statistics. (+info)
Audit in the therapy professions: some constraints on progress.
AIMS: To ascertain views about constraints on the progress of audit experienced by members of four of the therapy professions: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and clinical psychology. METHODS: Interviews in six health service sites with a history of audit in these professions. 62 interviews were held with members of the four professions and 60 with other personnel with relevant involvement. Five main themes emerged as the constraints on progress: resources; expertise; relations between groups; organisational structures; and overall planning of audit activities. RESULTS: Concerns about resources focused on lack of time, insufficient finance, and lack of access to appropriate systems of information technology. Insufficient expertise was identified as a major constraint on progress. Guidance on designing instruments for collection of data was the main concern, but help with writing proposals, specifying and keeping to objectives, analysing data, and writing reports was also required. Although sources of guidance were sometimes available, more commonly this was not the case. Several aspects of relations between groups were reported as constraining the progress of audit. These included support and commitment, choice of audit topics, conflicts between staff, willingness to participate and change practice, and concerns about confidentiality. Organisational structures which constrained audit included weak links between heads of professional services and managers of provider units, the inhibiting effect of change, the weakening of professional coherence when therapists were split across directorates, and the ethos of regarding audit findings as business secrets. Lack of an overall plan for audit meant that while some resources were available, others equally necessary for successful completion of projects were not. CONCLUSION: Members of four of the therapy professions identified a wide range of constraints on the progress of audit. If their commitment to audit is to be maintained these constraints require resolution. It is suggested that such expert advice, but also that these are directed towards the particular needs of the four professions. Moreover, a forum is required within which all those with a stake in therapy audit can acknowledge and resolve the different agendas which they may have in the enterprise. (+info)
Challenges in implementing a budget-holding programme for primary care clinics.
In 1990, Kupat Holim Clalit (KHC), Israel's largest sick fund, initiated a demonstration programme for transforming a number of primary care clinics in the Negev district of southern Israel into autonomous budget-holding units. Four programme components were implemented in the nine participating clinics: allocation of a fixed budget; expansion of day-to-day decision-making authority; establishment of a computerized information system to produce monthly reports on expenditure; and provision of incentives for budgetary control. The research findings are based on a four-year evaluation of the programme, which involved a longitudinal case study conducted with multiple research tools: in-depth interviews, a staff survey, and analysis of relevant documents. This article analyzes the challenges involved in implementing the demonstration programme. It examines clinic staff evaluation of the implementation process (e.g. overall staff had a positive attitude toward it); assesses staff satisfaction with clinic participation in the programme (while only 33% were satisfied, only 21% said they would like the clinic to revert to the pre-programme model) and factors influencing this satisfaction (among them intrinsic benefits, perception of the programme as fair and age); and discusses the lessons to be learnt from the programme regarding effective implementation of organizational change. The main lessons indicate the importance of certain factors in implementing such programmes: (a) long-term management commitment to the programme; (b) appointment of agents of change/programme administrators; (c) establishment of a formal agreement between the parties involved; (d) establishment of communication channels between the parties involved; (e) intrinsic benefits for staff, perceived as incentives to economize; (f) reliable data, perceived to be reliable by the parties involved; (g) staff participation in the process of change; and (h) involvement of the participating unit as a single entity. (+info)
Reform follows failure: II. Pressure for change in the Lebanese health sector.
This paper describes how, against a background of growing financial crisis, pressure for reform is building up in the Lebanese health care system. It describes the various agendas and influences that played a role. The Ministry of Health, backed by some international organizations, has started taking the lead in a reform that addresses both the way care is delivered and the way it is financed. The paper describes the interventions made to prepare reform. The experience in Lebanon shows that this preparation is a process of muddling through, experimentation and alliance building, rather than the marketing of an overall coherent blueprint. (+info)
Looking beyond the formulary budget in cost-benefit analysis.
With the introduction of newer, more expensive psychotropic medications, healthcare providers and managed care administrators must consider whether these drugs offer "value for the money." A true picture of the benefits of these drugs emerges only when all the costs of treatment are considered. Focusing exclusively on the acquisition cost of the drug can result in a misleading impression of the drug's worth. Although the medication costs associated with treating a patient with a newer drug increase, use of these agents may actually result in an overall decrease in healthcare costs, through reductions in hospitalization and length of stay, use of mental health services, and prescriptions for adjunctive drugs. In one study of the newer antipsychotic agent risperidone, the overall annual costs of treating a patient with schizophrenia were reduced by nearly $8,000 (Canadian dollars), even though medication costs increased by approximately $1,200 (Canadian dollars). Retrospective and prospective pharmacoeconomic studies can provide valuable data on the cost effectiveness of treatment with newer psychotropic medications. (+info)
Public hospital resource allocations in El Salvador: accounting for the case mix of patients.
National hospitals in developing countries command a disproportionate share of medical care budgets, justified on the grounds that they have a more difficult patient case mix and higher occupancy rates than decentralized district hospitals or clinics. This paper empirically tests the hypothesis by developing direct measures of the severity of patient illness, hospital case-mix and a resource intensity index for each of El Salvador's public hospitals. Based on an analysis of inpatient care staffing requirements, national hospitals are found to receive funding far in excess of what case-mix and case-load considerations would warrant. The findings suggest that significant system-wide efficiency gains can be realized by allocating hospital budgets on the bases of performance-related criteria which incorporate the case-mix approach developed here. (+info)
Shaping the future of Medicare.
This article suggests that further major changes in Medicare at this time are unwarranted. The enactment of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) has eliminated the need for quick action to assure solvency of the Part A Trust Fund, which is projected to be in balance for at least ten years. It will take time to implement and assess the effects of the BBA. The uncertainties of future trends in the health sector and Medicare suggest a go-slow approach. Future reforms to finance health care as the baby boom generation retires should be guided by the goals of continuing to assure health and economic security to elderly and disabled beneficiaries, with particular attention to the financial burdens on lower-income beneficiaries and those with serious illnesses or chronic conditions. Employers are cutting back on retiree health coverage, and the appropriate contribution of employers will need to be addressed. The BBA included major provisions to expand Medicare managed care choices. Special attention will need to be given to how well these innovations work, their cost impact on Medicare, the extent to which beneficiaries are able to make informed choices, and whether risk selection among plans and between traditional Medicare and plans can be adequately addressed. Most of the savings of BBA came from tighter payment rates to managed care plans and fee-for-service providers; it is unclear whether these will lead to rates well below the private sector or whether further savings can be achieved by extending these changes beyond 2002. (+info)
Collection development and outsourcing in academic health sciences libraries: a survey of current practices.
Academic health sciences libraries in the United States and Canada were surveyed regarding collection development trends, including their effect on approval plan and blanket order use, and use of outsourcing over the past four years. Results of the survey indicate that serials market forces, budgetary constraints, and growth in electronic resources purchasing have resulted in a decline in the acquisition of print items. As a result, approval plan use is being curtailed in many academic health sciences libraries. Although use of blanket orders is more stable, fewer than one-third of academic health sciences libraries report using them currently. The decline of print collections suggests that libraries should explore cooperative collection development of print materials to ensure access and preservation. The decline of approval plan use and the need for cooperative collection development may require additional effort for sound collection development. Libraries were also surveyed about their use of outsourcing. Some libraries reported outsourcing cataloging and shelf preparation of books, but none reported using outsourcing for resource selection. The reason given most often for outsourcing was that it resulted in cost savings. As expected, economic factors are driving both collection development and outsourcing practices. (+info)