Volume, efficiency, and quality in hospital care are often mixed in debate. We analyze how these dimensions are interrelated in surgical hospital management, with particular focus on volume effects: under financial constraints, efficiency is the best form of cost control. External perception of quality is important to attract patients and gain volumes. There are numerous explicit and implicit notions of surgical quality. The relevance of implicit criteria (functionality, reliability, consistency, customaziability, convenience) can change in the time course of hospital competition. Outcome data theoretically are optimal measures of quality, but surgical quality is multifactorially influenced by case mix, surgical technique, indication, process designs, organizational structures, and volume. As quality of surgery is hard to grade, implicit criteria such as customizability currently often overrule functionality (outcome) as the dominant market driver. Activities and volumes are inputs to produce quality. Capability does not translate to ability in a linear function. Adequate process design is important to realize efficiency and quality. Volumes of activities, degree of standardization, specialization, and customer involvement are relevant estimates for process design in services. Flow-orientated management focuses primarily on resource utilization and efficiency, not on surgical quality. The relationship between volume and outcome in surgery is imperfectly understood. Factors involve learning effects both on process efficiency and quality, increased standardization and task specialization, process flow homogeneity, and potential for process integration. Volume is a structural component to develop efficiency and quality. The specific capabilities and process characteristics that contribute to surgical outcome improvement should be defined and exported. Adequate focus should allow even small institutions to benefit from volume-associated effects. All volumes-based learning within standardized processes will finally lead to a plateauing of quality. Only innovations will then further improve quality. Possessing volume can set the optimal ground for continuous process research, subsequent change, innovation, and optimization, while volume itself appears not to be a quality prerequisite.
"Thus, it seems logical that any interpretation of the results published should take into account not only the comparability of the design of the studies, but also the specific characteristics of each healthcare system and the time frame of the observations . Furthermore, it might be a mistake to consider greater volume as a standard to predict better quality, when it is more likely the structures, the experience and specialization of the professionals, and the many different processes linked to this type of intervention that are responsible for better results, as many authors have pointed out [47-49]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is no consensus about the possible relation between in-hospital mortality in surgery for gastric cancer and the hospital annual volume of interventions. The objectives were to identify factors associated to greater in-hospital mortality for surgery in gastric cancer and to analyze the possible independent relation between hospital annual volume and in-hospital mortality.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of all patients discharged after surgery for stomach cancer during 2001-2002 in four regions of Spain using the Minimum Basic Data Set for Hospital Discharges. The overall and specific in-hospital mortality rates were estimated according to patient and hospital characteristics. We adjusted a logistic regression model in order to calculate the in-hospital mortality according to hospital volume.
There were 3241 discharges in 144 hospitals. In-hospital mortality was 10.3% (95% CI 9.3-11.4). A statistically significant relation was observed among age, type of admission, volume, and mortality, as well as diverse secondary diagnoses or the type of intervention. Hospital annual volume was associated to Charlson score, type of admission, region, length of stay and number of secondary diagnoses registered at discharge. In the adjusted model, increased age and urgent admission were associated to increased in-hospital mortality. Likewise, partial gastrectomy (Billroth I and II) and simple excision of lymphatic structure were associated with a lower probability of in-hospital mortality. No independent association was found between hospital volume and in-hospital mortality
Despite the limitations of our study, our results corroborate the existence of patient, clinical, and intervention factors associated to greater hospital mortality, although we found no clear association between the volume of cases treated at a centre and hospital mortality.
BMC Public Health 09/2009; 9(1):312. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-9-312 · 2.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Until relatively recently, quality in healthcare was difficult both to define and measure. Now that this is possible, healthcare providers must quickly adopt information technology to facilitate both the assessment of performance and improvement. Such improvements require recognition of the role of systems of care and the need to change these systems in order to improve performance. In the coming years, the tension between the pressure for quality improvement and the pressure for cost-containment is likely to increase.
Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research 12/2005; 5(6):741-9. DOI:10.1586/14737126.96.36.1991 · 1.67 Impact Factor
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