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1.  Rapid assessment of infrastructure of primary health care facilities – a relevant instrument for health care systems management 
Background
Health care infrastructure constitutes a major component of the structural quality of a health system. Infrastructural deficiencies of health services are reported in literature and research. A number of instruments exist for the assessment of infrastructure. However, no easy-to-use instruments to assess health facility infrastructure in developing countries are available. Present tools are not applicable for a rapid assessment by health facility staff. Therefore, health information systems lack data on facility infrastructure.
Methods
A rapid assessment tool for the infrastructure of primary health care facilities was developed by the authors and pilot-tested in Tanzania. The tool measures the quality of all infrastructural components comprehensively and with high standardization. Ratings use a 2-1-0 scheme which is frequently used in Tanzanian health care services. Infrastructural indicators and indices are obtained from the assessment and serve for reporting and tracing of interventions. The tool was pilot-tested in Tanga Region (Tanzania).
Results
The pilot test covered seven primary care facilities in the range between dispensary and district hospital. The assessment encompassed the facilities as entities as well as 42 facility buildings and 80 pieces of technical medical equipment. A full assessment of facility infrastructure was undertaken by health care professionals while the rapid assessment was performed by facility staff. Serious infrastructural deficiencies were revealed. The rapid assessment tool proved a reliable instrument of routine data collection by health facility staff.
Conclusions
The authors recommend integrating the rapid assessment tool in the health information systems of developing countries. Health authorities in a decentralized health system are thus enabled to detect infrastructural deficiencies and trace the effects of interventions. The tool can lay the data foundation for district facility infrastructure management.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0838-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0838-8
PMCID: PMC4421986  PMID: 25928252
Health care facility infrastructure; Rapid assessment tool; Tanzania; Health care facility management; Maintenance
2.  Costing of diabetes mellitus type II in Cambodia 
Background
Diabetes Mellitus Type II (T2DM) is a major and growing medical, social and economic burden in the East-Asian country of Cambodia. However, no economic modelling has been done to predict the number of cases and the budget impact.
Objective
This paper forecasts the epidemiological and economic consequences of T2DM in Cambodia. The Ministry of Health and related donor agencies are supported to select the most cost-effective interventions against the disease. At the same time this paper demonstrates the relevance and potential of health economic modelling for least developed countries.
Methods
We developed a Markov-Model for the specific situation of Cambodia. Data was taken from the scientific literature, grey literature in Cambodia and key-informant interviews.
Results
The number of people living with T2DM is steadily increasing from 145,000 in the year 2008 to 264,000 in the year 2028 (+82 %). In the year 2008 the diagnosed T2DM patients would incur costs of some 2 million US$ to cover all of diabetes treatment. 57 % of this amount would have to be spent for OAD-therapy, the rest for insulin therapy. In the year 2028 this amount will have grown to some 4 million US$. If all patients (incl. non-diagnosed) had to be paid-for the respective figure would be 5.5 million and 11 million US$.
Screening for T2DM is only cost-effective if the sensitivity of the test is high while the unit price is low. The results of this simulation call for targeting the high-risk groups. However, an increased availability of Oral Anti-Diabetic and Insulin Therapy is highly cost-effective.
Discussion
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is a major public health challenge in Cambodia. The simulations clearly indicate that prevention and treatment of this disease is highly cost-effective. However, not everything that is cost-effective might be affordable in Cambodia. This country will require external support to ease the growing burden of T2DM.
doi:10.1186/s13561-014-0024-4
PMCID: PMC4502066  PMID: 26208925
Cambodia; Costing; Diabetes; Markov-Model; Prediction; South-East Asia; T2DM
3.  Cohort profile: Greifswald approach to individualized medicine (GANI_MED) 
Background
Individualized Medicine aims at providing optimal treatment for an individual patient at a given time based on his specific genetic and molecular characteristics. This requires excellent clinical stratification of patients as well as the availability of genomic data and biomarkers as prerequisites for the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies. The University Medicine Greifswald, Germany, has launched the “Greifswald Approach to Individualized Medicine” (GANI_MED) project to address major challenges of Individualized Medicine. Herein, we describe the implementation of the scientific and clinical infrastructure that allows future translation of findings relevant to Individualized Medicine into clinical practice.
Methods/design
Clinical patient cohorts (N > 5,000) with an emphasis on metabolic and cardiovascular diseases are being established following a standardized protocol for the assessment of medical history, laboratory biomarkers, and the collection of various biosamples for bio-banking purposes. A multi-omics based biomarker assessment including genome-wide genotyping, transcriptome, metabolome, and proteome analyses complements the multi-level approach of GANI_MED. Comparisons with the general background population as characterized by our Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) are performed. A central data management structure has been implemented to capture and integrate all relevant clinical data for research purposes. Ethical research projects on informed consent procedures, reporting of incidental findings, and economic evaluations were launched in parallel.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-12-144
PMCID: PMC4040487  PMID: 24886498
Personalized Medicine; Individualized Medicine; Epidemiology
4.  Determining the impacts of hospital cost-sharing on the uninsured near-poor households in Vietnam 
Objectives
The study objective was to identify the size of different hospital financing sources for different hospital services and their impact on the uninsured.
Methods
A panel dataset of 84 public general hospitals (2005–2008) with cross-section data on hospital activity and hospital revenue was created and used to calculate unit costs of different hospital services by applying multiple regression models. The resulting risk of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) was estimated based on official income statistics.
Results
Average user fees (UF) for outpatient visits and inpatient bed days were US$4.13 and US$20.27, while actual full costs (AFC) were US$8.41 and US$36.66, respectively. These unit costs were 2.5 times higher in hospitals at the central versus the provincial level. UF for surgical inpatient bed days were 3.6 times that of non-surgical treatments (US$47.50 vs. 12.87) and AFC 5.0 times (US$101.72 vs. 20.08). UF accounted for 44.6%-77.9% of the AFC, the rest (22.1%-55.4%) was provided by direct government support (DGS). One surgical inpatient treatment at either central or provincial hospital level and one non-surgical inpatient treatment at central hospital level, immediately pushed uninsured near-poor households at risk of CHE.
Conclusions
Around 45% of hospital AFC was paid by DGS, the larger rest by UF. UF have become a great financial burden on the uninsured near-poor households, who have to pay for these out-of-pocket and therefore may not utilize even necessary services. If the rate of DGS were reduced, this would have the effect of increasing UF, but the savings to Government could be spent on subsidizing insurance to ensure that a larger part of the population can cover UF through insurance, especially the near-poor households.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-13-40
PMCID: PMC4057622  PMID: 24885268
Cost-sharing; Hospital unit cost; User fee; Catastrophic health expenditure; Vietnam
5.  Competition in the German pharmacy market: an empirical analysis 
Background
Pharmaceutical products are an important component of expenditure on public health insurance in the Federal Republic of Germany. For years, German policy makers have regulated public pharmacies in order to limit the increase in costs. One reform has followed another, main objective being to increase competition in the pharmacy market. It is generally assumed that an increase in competition would reduce healthcare costs. However, there is a lack of empirical proof of a stronger orientation of German public pharmacies towards competition thus far.
Methods
This paper analyses the self-perceptions of owners of German public pharmacies and their orientation towards competition in the pharmacy markets. It is based on a cross-sectional survey (N = 289) and distinguishes between successful and less successful pharmacies, the location of the pharmacies (e.g. West German States and East German States) and the gender of the pharmacy owner. The data are analysed descriptively by survey items and employing bivariate and structural equation modelling.
Results
The analysis reveals that the majority of owners of public pharmacies in Germany do not currently perceive very strong competitive pressure in the market. However, the innovativeness of the pharmacist is confirmed as most relevant for net revenue development and the profit margin. Some differences occur between regions, e.g. public pharmacies in West Germany have a significantly higher profit margin.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that the German healthcare reforms aimed at increasing the competition between public pharmacies in Germany have not been completely successful. Many owners of public pharmacies disregard instruments of active customer-orientated management (such as customer loyalty or an offensive position and economies of scale), which could give them a competitive advantage. However, it is clear that those pharmacists who strive for systematic and innovative management and adopt an offensive and competitive stance are quite successful. Thus, pharmacists should change their attitude and develop a more professional business model.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-407
PMCID: PMC3856528  PMID: 24112461
6.  The Cost of Routine Aedes aegypti Control and of Insecticide-Treated Curtain Implementation 
Insecticide-treated curtains (ITCs) are promoted for controlling the Dengue vector Aedes aegypti. We assessed the cost of the routine Aedes control program (RACP) and the cost of ITC implementation through the RACP and health committees in Venezuela and through health volunteers in Thailand. The yearly cost of the RACP per household amounted to US$2.14 and $1.89, respectively. The ITC implementation cost over three times more, depending on the channel used. In Venezuela the RACP was the most efficient implementation-channel. It spent US$1.90 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.83; 1.97) per curtain distributed, of which 76.9% for the curtain itself. Implementation by health committees cost significantly (P = 0.02) more: US$2.32 (95% CI: 1.93; 2.61) of which 63% for the curtain. For ITC implementation to be at least as cost-effective as the RACP, at equal effectiveness and actual ITC prices, the attained curtain coverage and the adulticiding effect should last for 3 years.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2011.10-0532
PMCID: PMC3083742  PMID: 21540384
7.  Efficiency of primary care in rural Burkina Faso. A two-stage DEA analysis 
Background
Providing health care services in Africa is hampered by severe scarcity of personnel, medical supplies and financial funds. Consequently, managers of health care institutions are called to measure and improve the efficiency of their facilities in order to provide the best possible services with their resources. However, very little is known about the efficiency of health care facilities in Africa and instruments of performance measurement are hardly applied in this context.
Objective
This study determines the relative efficiency of primary care facilities in Nouna, a rural health district in Burkina Faso. Furthermore, it analyses the factors influencing the efficiency of these institutions.
Methodology
We apply a two-stage Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) based on data from a comprehensive provider and household information system. In the first stage, the relative efficiency of each institution is calculated by a traditional DEA model. In the second stage, we identify the reasons for being inefficient by regression technique.
Results
The DEA projections suggest that inefficiency is mainly a result of poor utilization of health care facilities as they were either too big or the demand was too low. Regression results showed that distance is an important factor influencing the efficiency of a health care institution
Conclusions
Compared to the findings of existing one-stage DEA analyses of health facilities in Africa, the share of relatively efficient units is slightly higher. The difference might be explained by a rather homogenous structure of the primary care facilities in the Burkina Faso sample. The study also indicates that improving the accessibility of primary care facilities will have a major impact on the efficiency of these institutions. Thus, health decision-makers are called to overcome the demand-side barriers in accessing health care.
doi:10.1186/2191-1991-1-5
PMCID: PMC3395044  PMID: 22828358
Burkina Faso; DEA; Efficiency; Nouna; Primary Care
8.  Basing care reforms on evidence: The Kenya health sector costing model 
Background
The Government of the Republic of Kenya is in the process of implementing health care reforms. However, poor knowledge about costs of health care services is perceived as a major obstacle towards evidence-based, effective and efficient health care reforms. Against this background, the Ministry of Health of Kenya in cooperation with its development partners conducted a comprehensive costing exercise and subsequently developed the Kenya Health Sector Costing Model in order to fill this data gap.
Methods
Based on standard methodology of costing of health care services in developing countries, standard questionnaires and analyses were employed in 207 health care facilities representing different trustees (e.g. Government, Faith Based/Nongovernmental, private-for-profit organisations), levels of care and regions (urban, rural). In addition, a total of 1369 patients were randomly selected and asked about their demand-sided costs. A standard step-down costing methodology was applied to calculate the costs per service unit and per diagnosis of the financial year 2006/2007.
Results
The total costs of essential health care services in Kenya were calculated as 690 million Euros or 18.65 Euro per capita. 54% were incurred by public sector facilities, 17% by Faith Based and other Nongovernmental facilities and 23% in the private sector. Some 6% of the total cost is due to the overall administration provided directly by the Ministry and its decentralised organs. Around 37% of this cost is absorbed by salaries and 22% by drugs and medical supplies. Generally, costs of lower levels of care are lower than of higher levels, but health centres are an exemption. They have higher costs per service unit than district hospitals.
Conclusions
The results of this study signify that the costs of health care services are quite high compared with the Kenyan domestic product, but a major share are fixed costs so that an increasing coverage does not necessarily increase the health care costs proportionally. Instead, productivity will rise in particular in under-utilized private health care institutions. The results of this study also show that private-for-profit health care facilities are not only the luxurious providers catering exclusively for the rich but also play an important role in the service provision for the poorer population. The study findings also demonstrated a high degree of cost variability across private providers, suggesting differences in quality and efficiencies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-128
PMCID: PMC3129293  PMID: 21619567

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