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Sustained health-economic effects after reorganisation of a Swiss hospital emergency centre: a cost comparison study


Eichler, Klaus; Hess, Sascha; Chmiel, Corinne; Bögli, Karin; Sidler, Patrick; Senn, Oliver; Rosemann, Thomas; Brügger, Urs (2014). Sustained health-economic effects after reorganisation of a Swiss hospital emergency centre: a cost comparison study. Emergency Medicine Journal, 31(10):818-823.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Emergency departments (EDs) are increasingly overcrowded by walk-in patients. However, little is known about health-economic consequences resulting from long waiting times and inefficient use of specialised resources. We have evaluated a quality improvement project of a Swiss urban hospital: In 2009, a triage system and a hospital-associated primary care unit with General Practitioners (H-GP-unit) were implemented beside the conventional hospital ED. This resulted in improved medical service provision with reduced process times and more efficient diagnostic testing. We now report on health-economic effects.
METHODS: From the hospital perspective, we performed a cost comparison study analysing treatment costs in the old emergency model (ED, only) versus treatment costs in the new emergency model (triage plus ED plus H-GP-unit) from 2007 to 2011. Hospital cost accounting data were applied. All consecutive outpatient emergency contacts were included for 1 month in each follow-up year.
RESULTS: The annual number of outpatient emergency contacts increased from n=10 440 (2007; baseline) to n=16 326 (2011; after intervention), reflecting a general trend. In 2007, mean treatment costs per outpatient were €358 (95% CI 342 to 375). Until 2011, costs increased in the ED (€423 (396 to 454)), but considerably decreased in the H-GP-unit (€235 (221 to 250)). Compared with 2007, the annual local budget spent for treatment of 16 326 patients in 2011 showed cost reductions of €417 600 (27 200 to 493 600) after adjustment for increasing patient numbers.
CONCLUSIONS: From the health-economic point of view, our new service model shows 'dominance' over the old model: While quality of service provision improved (reduced waiting times; more efficient resource use in the H-GP-unit), treatment costs sustainably decreased against the secular trend of increase.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Emergency departments (EDs) are increasingly overcrowded by walk-in patients. However, little is known about health-economic consequences resulting from long waiting times and inefficient use of specialised resources. We have evaluated a quality improvement project of a Swiss urban hospital: In 2009, a triage system and a hospital-associated primary care unit with General Practitioners (H-GP-unit) were implemented beside the conventional hospital ED. This resulted in improved medical service provision with reduced process times and more efficient diagnostic testing. We now report on health-economic effects.
METHODS: From the hospital perspective, we performed a cost comparison study analysing treatment costs in the old emergency model (ED, only) versus treatment costs in the new emergency model (triage plus ED plus H-GP-unit) from 2007 to 2011. Hospital cost accounting data were applied. All consecutive outpatient emergency contacts were included for 1 month in each follow-up year.
RESULTS: The annual number of outpatient emergency contacts increased from n=10 440 (2007; baseline) to n=16 326 (2011; after intervention), reflecting a general trend. In 2007, mean treatment costs per outpatient were €358 (95% CI 342 to 375). Until 2011, costs increased in the ED (€423 (396 to 454)), but considerably decreased in the H-GP-unit (€235 (221 to 250)). Compared with 2007, the annual local budget spent for treatment of 16 326 patients in 2011 showed cost reductions of €417 600 (27 200 to 493 600) after adjustment for increasing patient numbers.
CONCLUSIONS: From the health-economic point of view, our new service model shows 'dominance' over the old model: While quality of service provision improved (reduced waiting times; more efficient resource use in the H-GP-unit), treatment costs sustainably decreased against the secular trend of increase.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of General Practice
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:22 May 2014 08:40
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 05:45
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:1472-0205
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1136/emermed-2013-202760
PubMed ID:23850883

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