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1.  The use of quality information by general practitioners: does it alter choices? A randomized clustered study 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:95.
Background
Following the introduction of elements of managed competition in the Netherlands in 2006, General Practitioners (GPs) and patients were given the role to select treatment hospital using public quality information. In this study we investigate to what extent hospital preferences of GP’s are affected by performance indicators on medical effectiveness and patient experiences. We selected three conditions: breast cancer, cataract surgery, and hip and knee replacement.
Methods
After an inquiry 26 out of 226 GPs in the region signed up to participate in our study. After a 2:1 randomization, we analyzed the referral patterns in the region using three groups of GPs: GPs (n=17) who used the report cards and received personal clarification, GPs that signed up for the study but were assigned to the control group (n=9), and the GPs outside the study (n=200).
We conducted a difference in differences analysis where the choice for a particular hospital was the dependent variable and time (2009 or 2010), the sum score of the CQI, the sum score of the PI’s and dummy variables for the individual hospitals were used as independent variables.
Results
The analysis of the conditions together and cataract surgery and hip and knee replacement separately, showed no significant relationships between the scores on the report cards and the referral patterns of the GPs. For breast cancer our analysis revealed that GPs in the intervention group refer 1.0% (p=0.01) more to hospitals that score one percent point better on the indicators for medical effectiveness.
Conclusion
Our study provides empirical evidence that GP referral patterns were unaffected by the available quality information, except for the outcome indicators for breast cancer care that were presented. This finding was surprising since our study was designed to identify changes in hospital preference (1) amongst the most motivated GP’s, (2) that received personal clarification of the performance indicators, and (3) selected indicators/conditions from a large set of indicators that they believed were most important. This finding may differ when quality information is based on outcome indicators with a clinically relevant difference, as shown by our indicators for breast cancer treatment. We believe that the current set of (largely process) hospital quality indicators do not serve the GP’s information needs and consequently quality plays little role in the selection of hospitals for treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-95
PMCID: PMC3707858  PMID: 23834745
2.  Dutch healthcare reform: did it result in better patient experiences in hospitals? a comparison of the consumer quality index over time 
Background
In 2006, the Dutch hospital market was reformed to create a more efficient delivery system through managed competition. To allow competition on quality, patient experiences were measured using the Consumer Quality index (CQI). We study whether public reporting and competition had an effect on the CQI between 2006 and 2009.
Methods
We analyzed 8,311 respondents covering 31 hospitals in 2006, 22,333 respondents covering 78 hospitals in 2007 and 24,246 respondents covering 94 hospitals in 2009. We describe CQI trends over the period 2006-2009. In addition we compare hospitals that varied in the level of competition they faced and hospitals that were forced to publish CQI results publicly and those that were not. We corrected for observable covariates between hospital respondents using a multi level linear regression. We used the Herfindahl Hirschman Index to indicate the level of competition.
Results
Between 2006 and 2009 hospitals showed a CQI improvement of 0.034 (p < 0.05) to 0.060 (p < 0.01) points on a scale between one and four. Hospitals that were forced to publish their scores showed a further improvement of 0.027 (p < 0.01) to 0.030 (p < 0.05). Furthermore, hospitals that faced more competition from geographically close competitors showed a more pronounced improvement of CQI-scores 0.004 to 0.05 than other hospitals (p < 0.001).
Conclusion
Our results show that patients reported improved experiences measured by the CQI between 2006 and 2009. CQI levels improve at a faster rate in areas with higher levels of competition. Hospitals confronted with forced public publication of their CQI responded by enhancing the experiences of their patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-76
PMCID: PMC3326705  PMID: 22443174
3.  Decomposing cross-country differences in quality adjusted life expectancy: the impact of value sets 
Background
The validity, reliability and cross-country comparability of summary measures of population health (SMPH) have been persistently debated. In this debate, the measurement and valuation of nonfatal health outcomes have been defined as key issues. Our goal was to quantify and decompose international differences in health expectancy based on health-related quality of life (HRQoL). We focused on the impact of value set choice on cross-country variation.
Methods
We calculated Quality Adjusted Life Expectancy (QALE) at age 20 for 15 countries in which EQ-5D population surveys had been conducted. We applied the Sullivan approach to combine the EQ-5D based HRQoL data with life tables from the Human Mortality Database. Mean HRQoL by country-gender-age was estimated using a parametric model. We used nonparametric bootstrap techniques to compute confidence intervals. QALE was then compared across the six country-specific time trade-off value sets that were available. Finally, three counterfactual estimates were generated in order to assess the contribution of mortality, health states and health-state values to cross-country differences in QALE.
Results
QALE at age 20 ranged from 33 years in Armenia to almost 61 years in Japan, using the UK value set. The value sets of the other five countries generated different estimates, up to seven years higher. The relative impact of choosing a different value set differed across country-gender strata between 2% and 20%. In 50% of the country-gender strata the ranking changed by two or more positions across value sets. The decomposition demonstrated a varying impact of health states, health-state values, and mortality on QALE differences across countries.
Conclusions
The choice of the value set in SMPH may seriously affect cross-country comparisons of health expectancy, even across populations of similar levels of wealth and education. In our opinion, it is essential to get more insight into the drivers of differences in health-state values across populations. This will enhance the usefulness of health-expectancy measures.
doi:10.1186/1478-7954-9-17
PMCID: PMC3146826  PMID: 21699675
4.  Criteria for priority setting of HIV/AIDS interventions in Thailand: a discrete choice experiment 
Background
Although a sizeable budget is available for HIV/AIDS control in Thailand, there will never be enough resources to implement every programme for all target groups at full scale. As such, there is a need to prioritize HIV/AIDS programmes. However, as of yet, there is no evidence on the criteria that should guide the priority setting of HIV/AIDS programmes in Thailand, including their relative importance. Also, it is not clear whether different stakeholders share similar preferences.
Methods
Criteria for priority setting of HIV/AIDS interventions in Thailand were identified in group discussions with policy makers, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), and community members (i.e. village health volunteers (VHVs)). On the basis of these, discrete choice experiments were designed and administered among 28 policy makers, 74 PLWHA, and 50 VHVs.
Results
In order of importance, policy makers expressed a preference for interventions that are highly effective, that are preventive of nature (as compared to care and treatment), that are based on strong scientific evidence, that target high risk groups (as compared to teenagers, adults, or children), and that target both genders (rather than only men or women). PLWHA and VHVs had similar preferences but the former group expressed a strong preference for care and treatment for AIDS patients.
Conclusions
The study has identified criteria for priority setting of HIV/AIDS interventions in Thailand, and revealed that different stakeholders have different preferences vis-à-vis these criteria. This could be used for a broad ranking of interventions, and as such as a basis for more detailed priority setting, taking into account also qualitative criteria.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-197
PMCID: PMC2912896  PMID: 20609244
5.  Measuring and explaining mortality in Dutch hospitals; The Hospital Standardized Mortality Rate between 2003 and 2005 
Background
Indicators of hospital quality, such as hospital standardized mortality ratios (HSMR), have been used increasingly to assess and improve hospital quality. Our aim has been to describe and explain variation in new HSMRs for the Netherlands.
Methods
HSMRs were estimated using data from the complete population of discharged patients during 2003 to 2005. We used binary logistic regression to indirectly standardize for differences in case-mix. Out of a total of 101 hospitals 89 hospitals remained in our explanatory analysis. In this analysis we explored the association between HSMRs and determinants that can and cannot be influenced by hospitals. For this analysis we used a two-level hierarchical linear regression model to explain variation in yearly HSMRs.
Results
The average HSMR decreased yearly with more than eight percent. The highest HSMR was about twice as high as the lowest HSMR in all years. More than 2/3 of the variation stemmed from between-hospital variation. Year (-), local number of general practitioners (-) and hospital type were significantly associated with the HSMR in all tested models.
Conclusion
HSMR scores vary substantially between hospitals, while rankings appear stable over time. We find no evidence that the HSMR cannot be used as an indicator to monitor and compare hospital quality. Because the standardization method is indirect, the comparisons are most relevant from a societal perspective but less so from an individual perspective. We find evidence of comparatively higher HSMRs in academic hospitals. This may result from (good quality) high-risk procedures, low quality of care or inadequate case-mix correction.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-73
PMCID: PMC2362116  PMID: 18384695
6.  Inequalities in access to medical care by income in developed countries 
Background
Most of the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aim to ensure equitable access to health care. This is often interpreted as requiring that care be available on the basis of need and not willingness or ability to pay. We sought to examine equity in physician utilization in 21 OECD countries for the year 2000.
Methods
Using data from national surveys or from the European Community Household Panel, we extracted the number of visits to a general practitioner or medical specialist over the previous 12 months. Visits were standardized for need differences using age, sex and reported health levels as proxies. We measured inequity in doctor utilization by income using concentration indices of the need-standardized use.
Results
We found inequity in physician utilization favouring patients who are better off in about half of the OECD countries studied. The degree of pro-rich inequity in doctor use is highest in the United States and Mexico, followed by Finland, Portugal and Sweden. In most countries, we found no evidence of inequity in the distribution of general practitioner visits across income groups, and where it does occur, it often indicates a pro-poor distribution. However, in all countries for which data are available, after controlling for need differences, people with higher incomes are significantly more likely to see a specialist than people with lower incomes and, in most countries, also more frequently. Pro-rich inequity is especially large in Portugal, Finland and Ireland.
Interpretation
Although in most OECD countries general practitioner care is distributed fairly equally and is often even pro-poor, the very pro-rich distribution of specialist care tends to make total doctor utilization somewhat pro-rich. This phenomenon appears to be universal, but it is reinforced when private insurance or private care options are offered.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.050584
PMCID: PMC1329455  PMID: 16415462

Results 1-6 (6)