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Effects of quality-based procedure hospital funding reform in Ontario, Canada: an interrupted time series study

Li AH, Palmer KS, Taljaard M, Paterson JM, Brown A, Huang A, Marani H, Lapointe-Shaw L, Pincus D, Wettstein MS, Kulkarni GS, Wasserstein D, Ivers N. PLoS One. 15(8):e0236480. Epub 2020 Aug 19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236480


Background — The Government of Ontario, Canada, announced hospital funding reforms in 2011, including Quality-based Procedures (QBPs) involving pre-set funds for managing patients with specific diagnoses/procedures. A key goal was to improve quality of care across the jurisdiction.

Methods — Interrupted time series evaluated the policy change, focusing on four QBPs (congestive heart failure, hip fracture surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery), on patients hospitalized 2010–2017. Outcomes included return to hospital or death within 30 days, acute length of stay (LOS), volume of admissions, and patient characteristics.

Results — At 2 years post-QBPs, the percentage of hip fracture patients who returned to hospital or died was 3.13% higher in absolute terms (95% CI: 0.37% to 5.89%) than if QBPs had not been introduced. There were no other statistically significant changes for return to hospital or death. For LOS, the only statistically significant change was an increase for prostate cancer surgery of 0.33 days (95% CI: 0.07 to 0.59). Volume increased for congestive heart failure admissions by 80 patients (95% CI: 2 to 159) and decreased for hip fracture surgery by 138 patients (95% CI: -183 to -93) but did not change for pneumonia or prostate cancer surgery. The percentage of patients who lived in the lowest neighborhood income quintile increased slightly for those diagnosed with congestive heart failure (1.89%; 95% CI: 0.51% to 3.27%) and decreased for those who underwent prostate cancer surgery (-2.08%; 95% CI: -3.74% to -0.43%).

Interpretation — This policy initiative involving a change to hospital funding for certain conditions was not associated with substantial, jurisdictional-level changes in access or quality.

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