Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Improving the accuracy of admitted subacute clinical costing: an action research approach

Sharon Hakkennes A C , Ross Arblaster A and Kim Lim B

A Knowledge and Information Services, Barwon Health, PO Box 281, Geelong, Vic. 3228, Australia. Email: rossa@barwonhealth.org.au

B Visasys Pty Ltd, PO Box 751, Glen Waverley, Vic. 3150, Australia. Email: kim@visasys.com.au

C Corresponding author. Email: sharonh@barwonhealth.org.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH15063
Submitted: 20 March 2015  Accepted: 6 July 2016   Published online: 29 August 2016

Abstract

Objective The aim of the present study was to determine whether action research could be used to improve the breadth and accuracy of clinical costing data in an admitted subacute setting

Methods The setting was a 100-bed in-patient rehabilitation centre. Using a pre-post study design all admitted subacute separations during the 2011–12 financial year were eligible for inclusion. An action research framework aimed at improving clinical costing methodology was developed and implemented.

Results In all, 1499 separations were included in the study. A medical record audit of a random selection of 80 separations demonstrated that the use of an action research framework was effective in improving the breadth and accuracy of the costing data. This was evidenced by a significant increase in the average number of activities costed, a reduction in the average number of activities incorrectly costed and a reduction in the average number of activities missing from the costing, per episode of care.

Conclusions Engaging clinicians and cost centre managers was effective in facilitating the development of robust clinical costing data in an admitted subacute setting. Further investigation into the value of this approach across other care types and healthcare services is warranted.

What is known about this topic? Accurate clinical costing data is essential for informing price models used in activity-based funding. In Australia, there is currently a lack of robust admitted subacute cost data to inform the price model for this care type.

What does this paper add? The action research framework presented in this study was effective in improving the breadth and accuracy of clinical costing data in an admitted subacute setting.

What are the implications for practitioners? To improve clinical costing practices, health services should consider engaging key stakeholders, including clinicians and cost centre managers, in reviewing clinical costing methodology. Robust clinical costing data has the potential to be used beyond mandatory reporting requirements; however, health services need to balance the cost of improving their costing data with the additional value obtained from that data.

Additional keywords: activity-based funding.


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