Quality and costs at the hospital level in Norway - Does there exist a trade-off between quality and costs at Norwegian hospitals?

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Bakke, Elise Emilsen




Andre skrifter
Thesis for the Master of Philosophy Degree in Health Economics, Policy and Management, HELED, UiO

Sammendrag (engelsk)

Background: Norway has throughout history introduced several reforms in order to aim focus on cost containment and improving efficiency in the health sector. However, expenditures are rising and there is a political pressure to contain costs as well as being efficient. As a result, it has led to a larger policy focus on efficiency and costs, but this can affect the level of quality of the health services. It is therefore an interest to find more information on the association between quality and costs across the Norwegian hospitals.

The objective: This paper analyses the relationship between costs and quality across 22 Norwegian hospitals for the years 2008 to 2014. The objective is to study the association between quality and costs at 22 Norwegian hospitals and determine if a trade-off is present between quality and costs. A previous study found no clear cost-quality trade-off. Further on, average cost efficiency is estimated for all hospital across the 7 years in order to see how the level of cost efficiency varies.

Method: Case-mix adjustment was used in order to adjust for DRG, patient characteristics and treatment variables to create hospital performance measures for three models. Casemixed performance indicators such as emergency readmission within 30 days and mortality within 30 days were used to measure the quality level. A Stochastic Frontier Analysis was used for a 7-year panel data (2008-2014) in order to estimate the inefficiency across the hospitals, where high mortality will be represented as low quality.

Results: SFA results showed that there exists an association between costs and quality across Norwegian hospitals. When performance indicator for 30-day mortality and 30-day emergency readmission increases it means quality is low and costs are low at the same time. Mortality within 30 days was statistically significant at 5% level and stronger than emergency readmission. A trade-off between costs and quality was therefore found. Average cost efficiency was 89.5%, where Oslo University Hospital had the lowest score while the most efficient hospital was Vestfold Hospital Trust. In general, university hospitals in Norway had some of the lowest cost efficiency scores.

Conclusion: The results indicate that a trade-off between cost and quality is present at the hospital level in Norway. When quality is low, costs are low and vice versa. In order to achieve high quality, it is found that costs will increase. Cost efficiency is present across the hospitals. Average cost efficiency was found to be 89.5%. It can be concluded that the hospitals overall are very cost efficient, but university hospitals had some of the lowest scores. Future studies on how hospital specialization affects cost efficiency using same model could be interesting.

Prosjekt info:

Oppdragsgiver: NFR via NTNU
Oppdragsgivers prosjektnr.: 214338
Frisch prosjekt: 4115 - The effect of DRG-based financing on hospital