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(1/273) Strengthening health management: experience of district teams in The Gambia.

The lack of basic management skills of district-level health teams is often described as a major constraint to implementation of primary health care in developing countries. To improve district-level management in The Gambia, a 'management strengthening' project was implemented in two out of the three health regions. Against a background of health sector decentralization policy the project had two main objectives: to improve health team management skills and to improve resources management under specially-trained administrators. The project used a problem-solving and participatory strategy for planning and implementing activities. The project resulted in some improvements in the management of district-level health services, particularly in the quality of team planning and coordination, and the management of the limited available resources. However, the project demonstrated that though health teams had better management skills and systems, their effectiveness was often limited by the policy and practice of the national level government and donor agencies. In particular, they were limited by the degree to which decision making was centralized on issues of staffing, budgeting, and planning, and by the extent to which national level managers have lacked skills and motivation for management change. They were also limited by the extent to which donor-supported programmes were still based on standardized models which did not allow for varying and complex environments at district level. These are common problems despite growing advocacy for more devolution of decision making to the local level.  (+info)

(2/273) Improving the quality of health care through contracting: a study of health authority practice.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate approaches of district health authorities to quality in contracting. DESIGN: Descriptive survey. SETTING: All district health authorities in one health region of England in a National Health Service accounting year. MATERIAL: 129 quality specifications used in contracting for services in six specialties (eight general quality specifications and 121 service specific quality specifications) MAIN MEASURES: Evaluation of the use of quality specifications; their scope and content in relation to established criteria of healthcare quality. RESULTS: Most district health authorities developed quality specifications which would be applicable to their local hospital. When purchasing care outside their boundaries they adopted the quality specifications developed by other health authorities. The service specific quality specifications were more limited in scope than the general quality specifications. The quality of clinical care was referred to in 75% of general and 43% of service specific quality specifications. Both types of specification considered quality issues in superficial and broad terms only. Established features of quality improvement were rarely included. Prerequisites to ensure provider accountability and satisfactory delivery of service specifications were not routinely included in contracts. CONCLUSION: Quality specifications within service contracts are commonly used by health authorities. This study shows that their use of this approach to quality improvement is inconsistent and unlikely to achieve desired quality goals. Continued reliance on the current approach is holding back a more fundamental debate on how to create effective management of quality improvement through the interaction between purchasers and providers of health care.  (+info)

(3/273) Health authority commissioning for quality in contraception services.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the commissioning of contraception services by London health authorities with accepted models of good practice. DESIGN: Combined interview and postal surveys of all health authorities and National Health Service (NHS) trusts responsible for running family planning clinics in the Greater London area. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Health authority commissioning was assessed on the presence of four key elements of good practice--strategies, coordination, service specifications, and quality standards in contracts--by monitoring activity and quality. RESULTS: Less than half the health authorities surveyed had written strategies or service specifications for contraception services. Arrangements for coordination of services were limited and monitoring was underdeveloped. CONCLUSION: The process of commissioning services for contraception seems to be relatively underdeveloped despite the importance of health problems associated with unplanned pregnancy in London. These findings raise questions about the capacity of health authorities to improve the quality of these services through the commissioning process.  (+info)

(4/273) Developing a model to reduce blindness in India: The International Centre for Advancement of Rural Eye Care.

With the continuing high magnitude of blindness in India, fresh approaches are needed to effectively deal with this burden on society. The International Centre for Advancement of Rural Eye Care (ICARE) has been established at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad to develop such an approach. This paper describes how ICARE functions to meet its objective. The three major functions of ICARE are design and implementation of rural eye-care centres, human resource development for eye care, and community eye-health planning. ICARE works with existing eye-care centres, as well as those being planned, in underserved areas of India and other parts of the developing world. The approach being developed by ICARE, along with its partners, to reduce blindness is that of comprehensive eye care with due emphasis on preventive, curative and rehabilitative aspects. This approach involves the community in which blindness is sought to be reduced by understanding how the people perceive eye health and the barriers to eye care, thereby enabling development of strategies to prevent blindness. Emphasis is placed on providing good-quality eye care with attention to reasonable infrastructure and equipment, developing a resource of adequately trained eye-care professionals of all cadres, developing a professional environment satisfactory for patients as well as eye-care providers, and the concept of good management and financial self-sustainability. Community-based rehabilitation of those with incurable blindness is also part of this approach. ICARE plans to work intensively with its partners and develop these concepts further, thereby effectively bringing into practice the concept of comprehensive eye care for the community in underserved parts of India, and later in other parts of the developing world. In addition, ICARE is involved in assessing the current situation regarding the various aspects of blindness through well-designed epidemiologic studies, and projecting the eye-care needs for the future with the help of reliable information. With balanced attention to infrastructure, manpower, financial self-sustenance, and future planning, ICARE intends to develop a practical model to effectively reduce blindness in India on a long-term basis.  (+info)

(5/273) Changing patterns of resource allocation in a London teaching district.

The health plans of the Tower Hamlets district management team were studied to determine what effects the report of the Resource Allocation Working Party and the White Paper "Priorities in the Health and Social Services" have had on resource allocation in a teaching district. The study showed that at present acute services are allocated a greater proportion of the district budget than occurs nationally, while geriatrics, mental health, and community services receive proportionately less. In the next three years spending on acute services is expected to decrease, while spending on geriatric facilities and community services will increase. Nevertheless, cuts in acute services will take place mainly through a reduction in the number of beds serving a community function, concentrating all acute services in the teaching hospital. Services to the district might be better maintained by creating a community hospital to meet the needs of patients who would otherwise need to be accommodated in acute beds with unnecessarily expensive support services.  (+info)

(6/273) An experience of utilization review in Europe: sequel to a BIOMED project.

OBJECTIVE: To develop and test a utilization review screening tool for use in European hospitals. SETTING: In 1993 a group of researchers financed by a European Union grant reviewed the use of utilization review in Europe. They quickly noticed a lack of specifically designed instruments able to take into account the health care and cultural differences across Europe, and available for use in different health care systems. Hence, they embarked upon the task of developing and testing a utilization review screening tool for use in European hospitals. RESULTS: The European Union-Appropriateness Evaluation Protocol's list of reasons was developed and assessed. This is a common taxonomy that classifies days identified as unnecessary and provides a list of levels of care to identify patients' needs. This new protocol not only substitutes for the multiple previous local versions of the Appropriateness Evaluation Protocol, but will also facilitate comparisons of the varying experiences in European countries. MAIN FINDINGS: Development of utilization review in Europe has been carried out mostly on a voluntary basis and the main objective was not control. The experience varies widely: from France, where utilization review is still developing and research has been implemented by local teams, to Portugal, where utilization review programmes have been initiated by government authorities. At this point different initiatives in quality improvement, and more specifically in utilization review, are being developed within the European context.  (+info)

(7/273) Introducing management principles into the supply and distribution of medicines in Tunisia.

A number of strategies have been proposed by various organizations and governments for rationalizing the use of drugs in developing countries. Such strategies include the use of essential drug lists, generic prescribing, and training in rational prescribing. None of these require doctors to become actively involved in the management of the drug supply to their health centres. In 1997, in the Kasserine region of Tunisia, the regional health authorities piloted a radically different strategy. This involved the theoretical allocation of a proportion of the regional drug budget to each district and subsequently to each health centre according to estimated demand. Medical staff were given responsibility for the management of these budgets, allowing them to control the nature and quantities of drugs supplied to the health centres in which they worked. This paper outlines the process by which this strategy was successfully implemented in the Foussana district of Kasserine region, and explores the problems encountered. It describes now the theoretical budgets were allocated to each district and how the costs of individual drugs and the consumption of drugs in the previous year were calculated. It then continues by giving an account of the training of the staff of the health centres, the preparation of a drug order form and the method of allocation of the theoretical budgets to each of the health centres. The results give an account of how the prescribing habits of doctors were changed as a result of the strategy, in order to take into account the costs of the drugs that they prescribed. They show how the health centres were able to manage their budgets, spending overall 99.8% of the budget allocated to the district. They outline some of the changes in the prescribing habits that took place, demonstrating a greater use of appropriate and essential drugs. The paper concludes that doctors and paramedical staff can successfully manage a theoretical drug budget, and that their involvement in this process leads to more rational prescribing within existing resource constraints. This has a consequence of benefiting patients, satisfying doctors and pleasing administrators.  (+info)

(8/273) Family planning funding through four federal-state programs, FY 1997.

CONTEXT: The maternal and child health (MCH) and the social services block grants have long played an important role in the provision of family planning services in the United States. The extent to which states have incorporated family planning services into the newer federally funded, but state-controlled, programs--Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)--has yet to be identified. METHODS: The health and social services agencies in all U.S. states, the District of Columbia and five federal jurisdictions were queried regarding their family planning expenditures and activities through the MCH and social services block grants and the TANF program in FY 1997. In addition, the states' CHIP plans were analyzed following their approval by the federal government. Because of differences in methodology, these findings cannot be compared with those of previous attempts to determine public expenditures for contraceptive services and supplies. RESULTS: In FY 1997, 42 states, the District of Columbia and two federal jurisdictions spent $41 million on family planning through the MCH program. Fifteen states reported spending $27 million through the social services block grant. Most of these jurisdictions indicated that they provide direct patient care services, most frequently contraceptive services and supplies. Indirect services--most often population-based efforts such as outreach and public education--were reported to have been provided more often through the MCH program than through the social services program. MCH block grant funds were more likely to go to local health departments, while social services block grant funds were more likely to be channeled through Planned Parenthood affiliates. Four states reported family planning activities funded under TANF in FY 1997, the first year of the program's operation. Virtually all state plans for the implementation of the CHIP program appear to include coverage of family planning services and supplies for the adolescents covered under the program, even when not specifically required to do so by federal law. CONCLUSIONS: Joining two existing--but frequently overlooked--block grants, two new, largely state-controlled programs are poised to become important sources of support for publicly funded family planning services. Now more than ever, supporters of family planning services need to look beyond the traditional sources of support--Title X and Medicaid--as well as beyond the federal level to the states, where important program decisions are increasingly being made.  (+info)