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1.  Activity-Based Funding of Hospitals and Its Impact on Mortality, Readmission, Discharge Destination, Severity of Illness, and Volume of Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109975.
Activity-based funding (ABF) of hospitals is a policy intervention intended to re-shape incentives across health systems through the use of diagnosis-related groups. Many countries are adopting or actively promoting ABF. We assessed the effect of ABF on key measures potentially affecting patients and health care systems: mortality (acute and post-acute care); readmission rates; discharge rate to post-acute care following hospitalization; severity of illness; volume of care.
We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of the worldwide evidence produced since 1980. We included all studies reporting original quantitative data comparing the impact of ABF versus alternative funding systems in acute care settings, regardless of language. We searched 9 electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE, OVID Healthstar, CINAHL, Cochrane CENTRAL, Health Technology Assessment, NHS Economic Evaluation Database, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Business Source), hand-searched reference lists, and consulted with experts. Paired reviewers independently screened for eligibility, abstracted data, and assessed study credibility according to a pre-defined scoring system, resolving conflicts by discussion or adjudication.
Of 16,565 unique citations, 50 US studies and 15 studies from 9 other countries proved eligible (i.e. Australia, Austria, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland). We found consistent and robust differences between ABF and no-ABF in discharge to post-acute care, showing a 24% increase with ABF (pooled relative risk  = 1.24, 95% CI 1.18–1.31). Results also suggested a possible increase in readmission with ABF, and an apparent increase in severity of illness, perhaps reflecting differences in diagnostic coding. Although we found no consistent, systematic differences in mortality rates and volume of care, results varied widely across studies, some suggesting appreciable benefits from ABF, and others suggesting deleterious consequences.
Transitioning to ABF is associated with important policy- and clinically-relevant changes. Evidence suggests substantial increases in admissions to post-acute care following hospitalization, with implications for system capacity and equitable access to care. High variability in results of other outcomes leaves the impact in particular settings uncertain, and may not allow a jurisdiction to predict if ABF would be harmless. Decision-makers considering ABF should plan for likely increases in post-acute care admissions, and be aware of the large uncertainty around impacts on other critical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4210200  PMID: 25347697
2.  Developing 'robust performance benchmarks' for the next Australian Health Care Agreement: the need for a new framework 
If the outcomes of the recent COAG meeting are implemented, Australia will have a new set of benchmarks for its health system within a few months. This is a non-trivial task. Choice of benchmarks will, explicitly or implicitly, reflect a framework about how the health system works, what is important or to be valued and how the benchmarks are to be used. In this article we argue that the health system is dynamic and so benchmarks need to measure flows and interfaces rather than simply cross-sectional or static performance. We also argue that benchmarks need to be developed taking into account three perspectives: patient, clinician and funder. Each of these perspectives is critical and good performance from one perspective or on one dimension doesn't imply good performance on either (or both) of the others.
The three perspectives (we term the dimensions patient assessed value, performance on clinical interventions and efficiency) can each be decomposed into a number of elements. For example, patient assessed value is influenced by timeliness, cost to the patient, the extent to which their expectations are met, the way they are treated and the extent to which there is continuity of care.
We also argue that the way information is presented is important: cross sectional, dated measures provide much less information and are much less useful than approaches based on statistical process control. The latter also focuses attention on improvement and trends, encouraging action rather than simply blame of poorer performers.
PMCID: PMC2383904  PMID: 18439247
3.  Design of price incentives for adjunct policy goals in formula funding for hospitals and health services 
Hospital policy involves multiple objectives: efficiency of service delivery, pursuit of high quality care, promoting access. Funding policy based on hospital casemix has traditionally been considered to be only about promoting efficiency.
Formula-based funding policy can be (and has been) used to pursue a range of policy objectives, not only efficiency. These are termed 'adjunct' goals. Strategies to incorporate adjunct goals into funding design must, implicitly or explicitly, address key decision choices outlined in this paper.
Policy must be clear and explicit about the behaviour to be rewarded; incentives must be designed so that all facilities with an opportunity to improve have an opportunity to benefit; the reward structure is stable and meaningful; and the funder monitors performance and gaming.
PMCID: PMC2322968  PMID: 18384694
5.  The Australian Health Care Agreements 2003–2008 
The Australian Health Care Agreements for the five years 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2008 were signed in August 2003 after vituperative debate and intransigence from the Commonwealth that vitiated the negotiation process. The new Agreements, which were not as generous as the Agreements they replaced, increase accountability on the States, requiring States to match increases in Commonwealth funding, and de-emphasise the prospects for further reform in Commonwealth-State relations during the course of the Agreements. This paper describes the new Australian Health Care Agreements and the process which led to them.
PMCID: PMC546402  PMID: 15679941
6.  Validity of the AusTOM scales: A comparison of the AusTOMs and EuroQol-5D 
Clinicians require brief outcome measures in their busy daily practice to document global client outcomes. Based on the UK Therapy Outcome Measure, the Australian Therapy Outcome Measures were designed to capture global therapy outcomes of occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech pathology in the Australian clinical context. The aim of this study was to investigate the construct (convergent) validity of the Australian Therapy Outcome Measures (AusTOMs) by comparing it with the EuroQuol-5D (EQ-5D).
The research was a prospective, longitudinal cohort study, with data collected over a seven month time period. The study was conducted at a total of 13 metropolitan and rural health-care sites including acute, sub-acute and community facilities. Two-hundred and five clients were asked to score themselves on the EQ-5D, and the same clients were scored by approximately 115 therapists (physiotherapists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists) using the AusTOMs at admission and discharge. Clients were consecutive admissions who agreed to participate in the study. Clients of all diagnoses, aged 18 years and over (a criteria of the EQ-5D), and able to give informed consent were scored on the measures. Spearman rank order correlation coefficients were used to analyze the relationships between scores from the two tools. The clients were scored on the AusTOMs and EQ-5D.
There were many health care areas where correlations were expected and found between scores on the AusTOMs and the EQ-5D.
In the quest to measure the effectiveness of therapy services, managers, health care founders and clinicians are urgently seeking to undertake the first step by identifying tools that can measure therapy outcome. AusTOMs is one tool that can measure global client outcomes following therapy. In this study, it was found that on the whole, the AusTOMs and the EQ-5D measure similar constructs. Hence, although the validity of a tool is never 'proven', this study offers preliminary support for the construct validity of AusTOMs.
PMCID: PMC543469  PMID: 15541181
outcomes; assessment
7.  Australia and New Zealand Health Policy: a new journal 
Australia and New Zealand Health Policy is a new journal which aims to promote debate and understanding about contemporary health policy developments in Australia and New Zealand. Although there are other international journals focussing on health policy, there are no Australian or New Zealand journals with this focus.
One of the aims of Australia and New Zealand Health Policy is to focus on contemporary critiques and contemporary developments. Accordingly an e-journal format is particularly appropriate. Australian and New Zealand Health Policy is an open access journal which means that all articles will be freely and universally accessible online which, amongst other things, means that all articles will be freely and universally accessible online without any barriers to access, which increases their visibility.
PMCID: PMC544960  PMID: 15679922
8.  Drug Policy Down Under: Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme 
Health Care Financing Review  2004;25(3):55-67.
Australia has had a government subsidized universal system of pharmaceutical provision for 50 years. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) consumes around 14 percent of total government health care expenditures and has grown substantially in both range of drugs covered, and expenditure since it was first introduced in 1950. It incorporates patient copayments (with differentials for the general population compared with concessional beneficiaries). Prior to listing a drug on the PBS it is subject to a rigorous cost-effectiveness analysis.
PMCID: PMC4194861  PMID: 15229996

Results 1-8 (8)