PLoS ONE, 2018, Vol.13(10)
Public hospital spending consumes a large share of government expenditure in many countries. The large cost variability observed between hospitals and also between patients in the same hospital has fueled the belief that consumption of a significant portion of this funding may result in no clinical benefit to patients, thus representing waste. Accurate identification of the main hospital cost drivers and relating them quantitatively to the observed cost variability is a necessary step towards identifying and reducing waste. This study identifies prime cost drivers in a typical, mid-sized Australian hospital and classifies them as sources of cost variability that are either warranted or not warranted—and therefore contributing to waste. An essential step is dimension reduction using Principal Component Analysis to pre-process the data by separating out the low value ‘noise’ from otherwise valuable information. Crucially, the study then adjusts for possible co-linearity of different cost drivers by the use of the sparse group lasso technique. This ensures reliability of the findings and represents a novel and powerful approach to analysing hospital costs. Our statistical model included 32 potential cost predictors with a sample size of over 50,000 hospital admissions. The proportion of cost variability potentially not clinically warranted was estimated at 33.7%. Given the financial footprint involved, once the findings are extrapolated nationwide, this estimation has far-reaching significance for health funding policy.
Research Article ; Medicine And Health Sciences ; Research And Analysis Methods ; Physical Sciences ; People And Places ; Medicine And Health Sciences ; Medicine And Health Sciences ; Research And Analysis Methods ; Physical Sciences ; Physical Sciences ; Physical Sciences ; Biology And Life Sciences ; Medicine And Health Sciences ; Computer And Information Sciences