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Hospital Performance: Costs of acute admitted patients in public hospitals in 2011–12

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Key findings: Cost per NWAU and Comparable Cost of Care

Some hospitals were found to have twice the average cost per unit of activity in 2011–12 compared to others in the same peer group, after adjusting for the different types of services provided, complexity of admitted patients and patient characteristics that lead to legitimate increases in cost. The results were broadly the same using either of the two main measures, Cost per NWAU or Comparable Cost of Care.

CCCComparable Cost of Care

There was also considerable variation across major and large metropolitan and major regional hospitals nationally in terms of the Comparable Cost of Care, which also includes the costs of care provided in ED prior to admission. Results ranged from $3,700 to $6,800 in 2011–12 (Figure 3). Within the individual hospital peer groups, where comparisons are fairer and more meaningful, the ranges are shown below.

Across major metropolitan hospitals, the average Comparable Cost of Care was $4,900. The averages at individual hospitals within this peer group ranged from $3,700 at one hospital to $6,500 at another (76% higher).

Top 10% of hospitals in this peer group:
$6,500 The Canberra Hospital (ACT)
$6,300 Calvary Public Hospital (ACT)
$5,900 Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (WA)
$5,700 Logan Hospital (Qld)
$5,700 The Prince Charles Hospital (Qld)
Bottom 10% of hospitals in this peer group:
$3,900 Royal Melbourne Hospital [Parkville] (Vic)
$3,900 Sunshine Hospital (Vic)
$3,900 The Northern Hospital [Epping] (Vic)
$3,900 Western Hospital [Footscray] (Vic)
$3,800 Dandenong Hospital (Vic)
$3,700 Maroondah Hospital [East Ringwood] (Vic)

Across large metropolitan hospitals, the average Comparable Cost of Care was $5,000. The averages at individual hospitals within this peer group ranged from $4,000 at one hospital to $6,800 at another (71% times higher).

Top 10% of hospitals in this peer group:
$6,800 Rockingham General Hospital (WA)
Bottom 10% of hospitals in this peer group:
$4,000 Sandringham Hospital (Vic)

Across major regional hospitals, the average Comparable Cost of Care was $4,900. The averages at individual hospitals within this peer group ranged from $4,200 at one hospital to $5,800 at another (36% higher).

Top 10% of hospitals in this peer group:
$5,800 Hervey Bay Hospital (Qld)
$5,500 Royal Darwin Hospital (NT)
Bottom 10% of hospitals in this peer group:
$4,400 Ballarat Health Services [Base Campus] (Vic)
$4,200 Tamworth Hospital (NSW)

Figure 3 summarises the Comparable Cost of Care in 82 major and large metropolitan and major regional hospitals. Results for all these hospitals can be found in Appendix 1.

Figure 3: Comparable Cost of Care* for acute admitted patients in public hospitals, 2011–12

Major metropolitan Large metropolitan Major regional
Total peer group costs $12,131,660,200 $805,871,900 $3,061,599,700
Total peer group units of activity 2,477,736 162,098 618,781
Peer average Comparable Cost of Care $4,900 $5,000 $4,900
An infographic image showing the total comparable costs of care for acute admitted patients in public hospitals in 2011-12

* Comparable Cost of Care measures the relative efficiency of acute admitted patients, including the care provided in the Emergency Department prior to admission. It excludes property, plant and equipment costs. It includes the cost, types of patients and activity as defined in the Technical Supplement.

Includes the costs as defined in the Technical Supplement.

A measure of a common unit of activity calculated as detailed in the Technical Supplement.

Sources: National Health Performance Authority analysis of results calculated using the National Hospital Cost Data Collection 2011–12 and Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Dataset 2011–12.

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