Resource Allocation in Health Care: Health Economics and Beyond

Health Care Analysis 11 (3):245-257 (2003)
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As resources in health care are scarce, managers and clinicians must make difficult choices about what to fund and what not to fund. At the level of a regional health authority, limited approaches to aid decision makers in shifting resources across major service portfolios exist. A participatory action research project was conducted in the Calgary Health Region. Through five phases of action, including observation of senior management meetings, as well as two sets of one-on-one interviews and two focus groups, an approach to priority setting at the macro level within the health region was developed and implemented. The resulting macro level approach builds on the program budgeting and marginal analysis (PBMA) framework. Using a multi-disciplinary expert panel, about $45M (CAN) was released for the 2002/03 fiscal year and made available for re-allocation to service growth areas and the deficit. Important qualitative themes from the managers and clinicians informed both process development and refinement. The approach developed here not only facilitated re-allocation of resources, but also drew in both clinicians and managers to work together on this challenging task. The approach is pragmatic, transparent and evidence based, and should have application elsewhere



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