Friday, September 19, 2014

Unwarranted variations, what's next?

Geographic Variations in Health CareWhat Do We Know and What Can Be Done to Improve Health System Performance?

We all know that there are unwarranted variations in health care. Unfortunately we haven't the same analysis about the drivers and its impact on health outcomes for such variations. OECD has just released a report on this topic, and suggests the following:
Eight types of policies might be envisaged:
• Public reporting on geographical variations, in order to raise questions among stakeholders and prompt actions, particularly in “outlier” regions.
• Setting targets at the regional level can support public reporting and help promoting  appropriate use.
• The re-allocation of resources to increase (or reduce) supply of resources (e.g., beds, doctors) in regions with low (or high) utilisation rates.
• Establishment and implementation of clinical guidelines in order to promote greater consistency in clinical practice.
• Provider-level reporting and feedback to improve clinical practice and discourage unnecessary provision of health services.
• Changes in payment systems to promote higher (or lower) use when there is high suspicion of underuse (or overuse).
• The measurement of health outcomes, to promote greater consistency in clinical practice that ensures improved patient outcomes.
• The utilisation of decision aids for patients, to promote more informed decisions about benefits and risks of various interventions, and to better respond to patient preferences.
These proposals fall short in my opinion. After a decade of publishing information on variations, public reporting has not raised deep questions for "stakeholders", at least as far as I know. Incentives have not changed substantially in order to reduce differences in utilization. Current payment systems require a redefinition from scratch in order to take into account such issues. Any citizen should be concerned about the results of the report. Something should be done.

PS. By the way, regarding OECD recommendations, they have not explained clearly what Wennberg suggested: shared decision making

PS. Bad journalism at LV. Why CAC doesn't care about complaints on written press.

Ferrando at Galeria Barnadas

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