A systematic review of health care efficiency measures

Published: January 28, 2009
Category: Papers
Authors: Chen SS, De Vries H, Hussey PS, McGlynn EA, Romley J, Shekelle PG, Wang MC
Country: United States
Language: null
Type: Performance Analysis
Settings: Academic, Hospital

Health Serv Res 44:784-805.

RAND, Arlington, VA, USA

OBJECTIVE: To review and characterize existing health care efficiency measures in order to facilitate a common understanding about the adequacy of these methods.

DATA SOURCES: Review of the MedLine and EconLit databases for articles published from 1990 to 2008, as well as search of the “gray” literature for additional measures developed by private organizations.

STUDY DESIGN: We performed a systematic review for existing efficiency measures. We classified the efficiency measures by perspective, outputs, inputs, methods used, and reporting of scientific soundness.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We identified 265 measures in the peer-reviewed literature and eight measures in the gray literature, with little overlap between the two sets of measures. Almost all of the measures did not explicitly consider the quality of care. Thus, if quality varies substantially across groups, which is likely in some cases, the measures reflect only the costs of care, not efficiency. Evidence on the measures’ scientific soundness was mostly lacking: evidence on reliability or validity was reported for six measures (2.3 percent) and sensitivity analyses were reported for 67 measures (25.3 percent).

CONCLUSIONS: Efficiency measures have been subjected to few rigorous evaluations of reliability and validity, and methods of accounting for quality of care in efficiency measurement are not well developed at this time. Use of these measures without greater understanding of these issues is likely to engender resistance from providers and could lead to unintended consequences.

Comment in

Commentary: A systematic review of health care efficiency measures. Binder LF, Rudolph B. Health Serv Res. 2009 Jun; 44(3):806-11. Epub 2009 Apr 14.

Commentary: Slack resources in health care organizations–fat to be trimmed or muscle to be exercised? Zinn J, Flood AB. Health Serv Res. 2009 Jun; 44(3):812-20. Epub 2009 Apr 14.

PMID: 19187184

PMCID: MC2699907

Process Measures,Resource Use,United States,Performance Analysis,Community Health Planning,Cost-Benefit Analysis,Data Collection/methods,Data Collection/standards,Episode of Care,Length of Stay,Models,Statistical,Patient Discharge,Quality Indicators,Health Care/organization & administration,Relative Value Scales,Reproducibility of Results,Research Design,Risk Adjustment

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