J Extra Corpor Technol
Volume 44, Number 4, December 2012
|178 - 185
|15 December 2012
More for Less: Best Patient Outcomes in a Time of Financial Restraint
* University of Auckland, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand
† Green Lane Department of Anesthesia, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand
‡ The Health Quality and Safety Commission, Auckland, New Zealand
Address correspondence to: Alan F. Merry, FANZCA, FFPMANZCA, FRCA, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand. E-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 18 November 2012
In many countries, expenditure on health care has increased dramatically over recent years. There have been parallel improvements in many indicators of population health, but too many patients continue to be harmed by health care or receive care that is supply-sensitive, ineffective, or poorly aligned with their needs and values. In addition to human costs, this translates into substantial waste of resource. The world has recently faced economic challenges unseen since the great depression of the 1930s. The financial situation of a country can, like a business, be expressed in three sets of accounts: statements of financial position, financial performance, and cash flow. A key test of solvency is the ability to pay debts as they become due (whether from current account or further borrowing). In general, this is a function of public debt, which for many countries has become very high. However, private debt and net financial position are also relevant to a country’s financial prospects. Ultimately, borrowing is not sustainable indefinitely and given limited prospects for growth in income in the coming years, most countries will likely need to reduce or at least constrain expenditure on health care. This implies obtaining better value from the resources that are available, and we suggest that the key to this lies in improving the quality of care and, in particular, reducing variation in health care. In the United States, new legislation promoting accountable care organizations may help to do this. Cardiac surgery can be particularly effective in extending patients’ lives and in improving the quality of their lives. Our ability to continue to provide cardiac surgery in the face of constrained economic times will depend on engaging more actively in ensuring that what we do is the right thing: that our operations are effective and that they truly meet the needs and values of our patients. It will also depend on doing these operations right the first time.
Key words: economics / cardiac surgery / cardiac anesthesia / perfusion / quality and safety of health care / supply-sensitive care / accountable health care organizations / variation in health care
© 2012 AMSECT
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