Is health insurance in Greece in need of reform? (1/263)

This paper aims to assess the relationship between insurance contributions and health benefits in Greece by using information from sickness funds' accounts. The paper argues that the fragmentation of social health insurance, and the particular ways in which sickness funds' financial services are organized, are a major source of inequity and are grossly inefficient. The survival of these systems in the 1990s cannot be explained except on grounds of inertia and corporate resistance.  (+info)

Experience measuring performance improvement in multiphase picture archiving and communications systems implementations. (2/263)

When planning a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) implementation and determining which equipment will be implemented in earlier and later phases, collection and analysis of selected data will aid in setting implementation priorities. If baseline data are acquired relative to performance objectives, the same information used for implementation planning can be used to measure performance improvement and outcomes. The main categories of data to choose from are: (1) financial data; (2) productivity data; (3) operational parameters; (4) clinical data; and (5) information about customer satisfaction. In the authors' experience, detailed workflow data have not proved valuable in measuring PACS performance and outcomes. Reviewing only one category of data in planning will not provide adequate basis for targeting operational improvements that will lead to the most significant gains. Quality improvement takes into account all factors in production: human capacity, materials, operating capital and assets. Once we have identified key areas of focus for quality improvement in each phase, we can translate objectives into implementation requirements and finally into detailed functional and performance requirements. Here, Integration Resources reports its experience measuring PACS performance relative to phased implementation strategies for three large medical centers. Each medical center had its own objectives for overcoming image management, physical/geographical, and functional/technical barriers. The report outlines (1) principal financial and nonfinancial measures used as performance indicators; (2) implementation strategies chosen by each of the three medical centers; and (3) the results of those strategies as compared with baseline data.  (+info)

Characteristics of private medical practice in India: a provider perspective. (3/263)

Supply factors, depicted by input market conditions and government regulations, and demand factors, depicted by financing mechanisms and utilization patterns, are likely to determine the shape and character of private medical practice. The interaction of this complex set of factors will have considerable implications for the cost access and quality of services offered by this sector. Understanding these characteristics from a provider perspective is imperative to influence the behaviour of providers in this sector. This paper describes some of the important characteristics of private medical practice using a case study of an urban district in India, Ahmedabad, and analyzes their implications. Using survey data of 130 private doctors in the allopathic system, the paper describes broad characteristics of private medical practice using parameters such as growth of private practice, patient load and referrals within the sector, payment methods and determinants, patient concerns, and risks associated with private practice. The paper presents views on the prevalence of various undesirable practices in the private medical sector. It also discusses the awareness of providers about selected important regulations. The findings suggest that growing capital intensity due to cost of location, medical equipment and technology, and financial sources of capital investments are some unfavourable environmental factors experienced by private providers. The findings also indicate a high prevalence of various undesirable practices and low awareness of the objectives of important legislation among practicing doctors. Lack of awareness of important and relevant legislation raises serious questions about the implementation of these laws. The paper identifies the strong need for instituting and implementing an effective continuing medical education programme for practicing doctors, and linking it with their registration and continuation of their license to practice. The paper also suggests that cost of health care, access and quality problems will worsen with the growth of the private sector. The public policy response to check some of the undesirable consequences of this growth is critical and should focus on strengthening the existing institutional mechanisms to protect patients, developing and implementing an appropriate regulatory framework and strengthening the public health care delivery system. The study also discusses various other policy implications arising.  (+info)

Specialty networking in pediatric surgery: a paradigm for the future of academic surgery. (4/263)

OBJECTIVE: To review retrospectively a 4-year experience with pediatric surgical networking at a major academic medical center in the Midwest. BACKGROUND: The growth of managed care in the United States during the past decade has had a major impact on the practice of medicine in general, but especially on academic medicine. In some academic medical centers, the loss of market share has not only affected clinical activity but has also compromised the educational and research missions of these institutions. METHODS: At the authors' institution, a networking strategy in pediatric surgery was established in 1993 and implemented on July 1, 1994. In 1994, one new satellite practice was established; over the next 4 years, four additional practices were added, including one in another state. To assess the impact on financial status, clinical activity, education, and academic productivity, the following parameters were analyzed: gross and net revenue, surgical cases, clinic visits, ranking of the pediatric surgery residency, publications, grant support, and development and endowment funds. RESULTS: Gross and net revenue increased from $3,273,000 and $302,000 in 1993 to $10,087,000 and $2,826,000, respectively, in 1998. Surgical cases and clinic visits increased from 1240 and 3751 in 1993 to 5872 and 11,604, respectively, in 1998. At the medical center's children's hospital, surgical cases and clinic visits increased from 1240 and 3751 to 2592 and 4729 during the same time period. During this 4-year period, the faculty increased from 4 to 11. Since 1997, the National Resident Matching Program has provided data on how pediatric surgery residency candidates ranked a training program. In 1997, this program received the second-most one to five rankings; in 1998, it tied for first. This exceeds the faculty's perception of previous years' rankings. Publications increased from 26 in 1993 to a peak number of 62 in 1996; in 1997 and 1998 the publications were 48 and 37, respectively. External grant support increased from $139,882 in 1993 to a total of $6,109,971 in 1998. Development and endowment funds increased from $103,559 in 1993 to $2,702,2777 in 1998. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric surgical networking at the authors' institution has had a markedly positive impact on finances, clinical activity, education, and academic productivity during a 4-year period. The residency training program appears to have improved in popularity among candidates, probably because of the increased referral of complex cases to the medical center from the various networking satellites. External grant support and basic laboratory research significantly increased, most likely because of the greater number of faculty with protected time for research recruited. Development and endowment funds dramatically grew because of the excellent fiscal health of the pediatric surgical program. This experience may serve as a model for other academic surgical specialties.  (+info)

Can computer autoacquisition of medical information meet the needs of the future? A feasibility study in direct computation of the fine grained electronic medical record. (5/263)

The project describes feasibility testing of a two-year clinical deployment of an electronic record keeping system for primary care medicine that allowed financial medical management and clinical disease study without the encumbrance of human encoding. The software used an expert system for acquisition of historical information and automatic database encoding of each independent fact. The historical acquisition system was combined with a screen-based physician data entry system to create a fine-grained medical record. Fine-grained data allowed direct computer processing to mimic the ends that presently require human encoding--gatekeeping, disease characterization and remote disease surveillance. The project demonstrated the possibility of real time gatekeeping through direct analysis of data. Detection and characterization of disease states using statistical methods within the database was possible, however, limited in this study because of the large numbers of patient interviews required. The possibilities for remote disease monitoring and clinical studies are also discussed.  (+info)

Health sector development: from aid coordination to resource management. (6/263)

Aid coordination has assumed a prominent place on health policy agendas. This paper synthesizes the findings of research undertaken to explore the changing practices of aid coordination across a number of countries. It begins by reviewing the key issues giving rise to increased attention to aid coordination in the health sector. The second section describes, assesses and compares the strengths and weaknesses of the dominant mechanisms or instruments which were found to be employed to coordinate health sector aid in the case studies. From this analysis, four factors become clear. First, in many countries, coordination mechanisms have been introduced as a part of an incremental process of trying out different approaches--there is no one model that stands out at any one time. Secondly, some instruments function largely for consultation, predominantly coordinating inputs, while others are more directive and operational, and are used to manage inputs, processes and outputs. Third, many of the mechanisms have not excelled, although, fourth, it is difficult to judge the effectiveness or impact of aid coordination. It is therefore argued that concern with the effectiveness of aid coordination arrangements must give way to a broader analysis of the processes, outputs and outcomes governing the use of both external and domestic resources, focusing on institutional characteristics, the distribution and nature of influence among the actors, and the interests which they pursue through the aid regime. These factors varied considerably across the countries indicating that aid management is context dependent and subject to continuing changes. Finally, the paper looks at the findings in the light of the introduction of sector-wide approaches.  (+info)

The rise and fall of the physician practice management industry. (7/263)

The dominant view among academic economists is that the financial markets value financial securities "efficiently," in the sense that the prevailing prices of widely traded securities fully and properly reflect, at any time, all publicly available information that bears on these securities. Although that theory has great intuitive appeal, it requires intellectual effort to reconcile it with the rise and fall of the physician practice management industry. This paper explores how acquisition-driven firms are valued in the financial markets and what structural factors may stand in the way of truly efficient security valuation.  (+info)

Safety-net health plans: a status report. (8/263)

This paper reports on a national survey of Medicaid managed care plans sponsored by safety-net provider organizations that have a mission of service to low-income populations. We identified ninety-nine safety-net plans and obtained data from eighty of them regarding their sponsorship, age and size, relationships to sponsors, managed care practices, and measures of success. Most plans engage in active managed care and have achieved at least some of their goals. However, 60 percent of plans lost money in 1997, and economic trends have been unfavorable.  (+info)