If a pilot funding programme for elective procedures at Galway University Hospitals is extended it will result in further efficiencies and will reduce waiting times for patients.
That is the view of Dr David O’Keeffe, the clinical director for acute and continuing care for Galway/Roscommon.
He was commenting on the successful funding initiative for elective orthopaedic procedures - hip and knee replacement surgeries - at Merlin Park University Hospital which took place from July to December 2011.
The pilot programme was based on the concept of “money follows the patient” whereby the hospital was paid for the number of procedures carried out rather than receiving a fixed budget.
The aim of the pilot was to improve efficiency by reducing the cost of treatments per patient and increasing the number of patients being treated.
Dr O’Keeffe said the hospital was very pleased with the programme’s results. It demonstrated improvements in the key areas identified with 193 patients treated (more than the planned 182 ) and the budget received was €2.192m. The patient’s average length of stay was 6.7 days for the procedures which was a reduction of nearly two days per patient.
“This trial shows that Galway University Hospitals, and Merlin Park University Hospital in particular, can match activity to funding and treat patients in a timely and efficient manner.
”The ‘money follows the patient’ funding programme shows promise and if extended to other elective procedures will bring efficiencies and reduce waiting times for patients.”
John Hennessy, the HSE West’s regional director of operations, outlined the programme represents the beginning of a “fundamental change” in the financing of Irish hospitals.
“In simple terms the funding arrangement moves from the historical ‘roll over’ basis to one based on actual output.
“Seven hospitals took part in the pilot project which was very successful with considerable positive benefits delivered, for example on average the decrease in bed days was 20 per cent, which is annualised at over 6,000 bed days in total.”
He stated it is hoped that the pilot project will extend into 2012 with additional hospitals taking part.