Is there a volume-quality relationship within the independent treatment centre sector? A longitudinal analysis
SourceBMC Health Services Research, 19, 1, (2019), pp. 853
Article / Letter to editor
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BMC Health Services Research
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: The number of independent treatment centres (ITCs) has grown substantially. However, little is known as to whether the volume-quality relationship exists within this sector and whether other possible organisational factors mediate this relationship. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of such possible relationships. METHODS: Data originate from the Dutch Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) and the Dutch Patients Association. We used longitudinal data from 4 years (2014-2017) including three different quality measures: 1) composite of structural and process indicators, 2) postoperative infections, and 3) patient satisfaction. We measured volume by the number of invasive treatments. We adjusted for three important organisational characteristics: (1) size of workforce, (2) chain membership, and (3) ownership status. For statistical inference, random effects analysis was used. We also ran several robustness checks for the volume-quality relationship, including a fractional logit model. RESULTS: ITCs with higher volumes scored better on structure, process and outcome (i.e. postoperative infections) indicators compared to the low-volume ITCs - although only marginally on outcome. However, ITCs with higher volumes do not have higher patient satisfaction. There is a decreasing marginal effect of volume - in other words, an L-shaped curve. The effect of the intermediating structural factors on the volume-quality relationship (i.e. workforce size, chain membership and ownership status) is less clear. Our findings suggest that chain membership has a negative influence on patient satisfaction. Furthermore, for-profit providers scored better on the Net Promoter Score. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows with some certainty that the quality of care in low-volume ITCs is lower than in high-volume ITCs as measured by structural, process and outcome (i.e. postoperative infection) indicators. However, the size of the effect of volume on postoperative infections is small, and at higher volumes the marginal benefits (in terms of lower postoperative infections) decrease. In addition, volume is not related to patient satisfaction. Furthermore, the association between the structural intermediating factors and quality are tenuous.
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