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1.  Benchmarking and reducing length of stay in Dutch hospitals 
Background
To assess the development of and variation in lengths of stay in Dutch hospitals and to determine the potential reduction in hospital days if all Dutch hospitals would have an average length of stay equal to that of benchmark hospitals.
Methods
The potential reduction was calculated using data obtained from 69 hospitals that participated in the National Medical Registration (LMR). For each hospital, the average length of stay was adjusted for differences in type of admission (clinical or day-care admission) and case mix (age, diagnosis and procedure). We calculated the number of hospital days that theoretically could be saved by (i) counting unnecessary clinical admissions as day cases whenever possible, and (ii) treating all remaining clinical patients with a length of stay equal to the benchmark (15th percentile length of stay hospital).
Results
The average (mean) length of stay in Dutch hospitals decreased from 14 days in 1980 to 7 days in 2006. In 2006 more than 80% of all hospitals reached an average length of stay shorter than the 15th percentile hospital in the year 2000. In 2006 the mean length of stay ranged from 5.1 to 8.7 days. If the average length of stay of the 15th percentile hospital in 2006 is identified as the standard that other hospitals can achieve, a 14% reduction of hospital days can be attained. This percentage varied substantially across medical specialties. Extrapolating the potential reduction of hospital days of the 69 hospitals to all 98 Dutch hospitals yielded a total savings of 1.8 million hospital days (2006). The average length of stay in Dutch hospitals if all hospitals were able to treat their patients as the 15th percentile hospital would be 6 days and the number of day cases would increase by 13%.
Conclusion
Hospitals in the Netherlands vary substantially in case mix adjusted length of stay. Benchmarking – using the method presented – shows the potential for efficiency improvement which can be realized by decreasing inputs (e.g. available beds for inpatient care). Future research should focus on the effect of length of stay reduction programs on outputs such as quality of care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-220
PMCID: PMC2582034  PMID: 18950476
2.  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

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