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Arch Hellen Med, 24(1), January-February 2007, 34-47


Efficiency evaluation in health care

Center for Health Services Research, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

This review covers the concept of efficiency in health care and the methods used for its measurement. The term efficiency refers to the relation between the results of health programs or health services and the human, material and financial resources employed to achieve those results. Efficiency evaluation can be made at two levels: the level of individual health programs, mostly through methods of economic evaluation, and the level of health services, through benchmarking techniques. Economic evaluation is the comparative analysis of alternative health programs in terms of costs in monetary units and consequences in monetary or physical units (e.g. years of life gained). In most benchmarking techniques a comparison is made of health services providers with a specific reference point, benchmark on the basis of various different input and output variables measured in physical units. Despite the shortcomings of economic evaluation methods and benchmarking techniques, they are both considered prerequisites for the improvement of the delivery of health services and the saving of resources, and they are being employed increasingly in all developed health care systems. In addition, modern, sophisticated and comprehensive techniques have been developed recently for assessing efficiency at the national level.

Key words: “Benchmarking analysis”, “Economic evaluation”, Efficiency.

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