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Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 11, Issue 2, 2008. Pages: 79-88
Published Online: 30 May 2008

Copyright © 2008 ICMPE.


 

Methodological Advances in Unit Cost Calculation of Psychiatric Residential Care in Spain

Karen Moreno,1* Eduardo Sanchez2, Luis Salvador-Carulla3

1Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Accountancy, Department of Business Administration, Public University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain.
2Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Basis of Economic Analysis, Department of Economy, Public University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain.
3MD, Ph.D., President, PSICOST/RIRAG Research Association, Jerez, Spain.

Correspondence to*: Karen Moreno, Department of Business Administration, PublicUniversity of Navarre (Spain). Campus de Arrosad¡a, s/n. 31006 Pamplona, Navarre, Spain.
Tel.: +34-948-169 372
Fax: +34-948-169 404
E-mail: karen.moreno@unavarra.es

Source of Funding: This research was funded by "Health Research Fund'' (FIS), which belongs to the Ministry of Health and Consumption of Spain, project number PID4077.

Abstract

The care of the severe mentally ill who need intensive support for their daily living (dependent persons)accounts for an increasingly proportion of public expenditure and better unit cost calculation of services is demanded. Our aim was the design and implementation of solid methodology to calculate unit costs of different types of care. An adaptation of the Activity-Based-Costing methodology was applied in Navarre, a region in the North of Spain, for the public Mental Health Services. A unit cost per care process was obtained for all levels of care considered in each service during 2005. For avoiding problems of asymmetric cost distribution, a simple Bayesian model was used. We report the results obtained for Long-Term Residential Care and note important variations between unit costs when considering different levels of care. The results obtained provide useful information (as patterns of care) although its implementation requires much time to compile the initial information and collaboration of staff and managers working in services.

 

Background: The care of the severe mentally ill who need intensive support for their daily living (dependent persons), accounts for an increasingly large proportion of public expenditure in many European countries.

Aims of the Study: The main aim of this study was the design and implementation of solid methodology to calculate unit costs of different types of care. To date, methodologies used in Spain have produced inaccurate figures, suggesting few variations in patient consumption of the same service.
Methods: An adaptation of the Activity-Based-Costing methodology was applied in Navarre, a region in the North of Spain, as a pilot project for the public mental health services. A unit cost per care process was obtained for all levels of care considered in each service during 2005. The European Service Mapping Schedule (ESMS) codes were used to classify the services for later comparisons. Finally, in order to avoid problems of asymmetric cost distribution, a simple Bayesian model was used.

Results: As an illustration, we report the results obtained for long-term residential care and note that there are important variations between unit costs when considering different levels of care. Considering three levels of care (Level 1-low, Level 2-medium and Level 3-intensive), the cost per bed in Level 3 was 10% higher than that of Level 2.

Discussion: The results obtained using the cost methodology described provide more useful information than those using conventional methods, although its implementation requires much time to compile the necessary information during the initial stages and the collaboration of staff and managers working in the services. However, in some services, if no important variations exist in patient care, another method would be advisable, although our system provides very useful information about patterns of care from a clinical point of view.

Conclusions: Detailed work is required at the beginning of the implementation in order to avoid the calculation of distorted figures and to improve the levels of decision making within the Health Care Service.

Implications for Health Care Policy and Formulations: As other European countries, Spain has adopted a new care system for the dependent population. To finance this new system, reliable figures must be calculated for each type of user in order to establish tariffs or public prices. This study provides a useful management tool to assist in decision making.

Implications for Future Research: The methodology should be implemented in other regions of Spain and even in other countries in order to compare our results and validate the cost system designed.


Received 8 May 2007; accepted 17 March 2008

Copyright 2008 ICMPE