Background and Objectives:
There is much interest in adding social variables to hospital performance assessments. Many of the existing analyses, however, already include patients' diagnosis data, and it is not clear that adding a social adjustment variable would improve the quality of the results: the growing literature on this issue provides mixed results. The purpose in this study was to add evidence from a developing country into this discussion.
We estimate the efficiency of hospitals controlling for casemix, with and without adjusting the hospital's casemix for the patients' sociodemographic variables. The magnitude of the adjustment is based on the observed impact of age, sex, and income on length of stay, conditional on the diagnosis related group (DRG). We use a data envelopment analysis (DEA) to assess the efficiency of 50 Chilean hospitals' discharges, including 780 DRGs and covering about 60% of total discharges in Chile from 2013 to 2015.
We found that the sociodemographic adjustment introduces very small changes in the DEA estimation of efficiency. The underlying reason is the relatively low influence of sociodemographics on hospital costs, conditional on DRG, and the changing pattern of sociodemographics across DRGs for any given hospital.
We conclude that the casemix-adjusted estimation of hospital efficiency is robust to the heterogeneity of patients' sociodemographic heterogeneity across hospitals. These results confirm, in a developing country, what has been observed in developed countries. For management purposes, then, the processing costs of adding social variables into hospitals' performance assessments might not be justified.