Prioritising models of healthcare service delivery for a more sustainable health system: a Delphi study of Australian health policy, clinical practice and management, academic and consumer stakeholders

Polina Putrik, Rebecca Jessup, Rachelle Buchbinder, Paul Glasziou, Jonathan Karnon, Denise A O'Connor

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Abstract

Objectives

Healthcare expenditure is growing at an unsustainable rate in developed countries. A recent scoping review identified several alternative healthcare delivery models with the potential to improve health system sustainability. Our objective was to obtain input and consensus from an expert Delphi panel about which alternative models they considered most promising for increasing value in healthcare delivery in Australia and to contribute to shaping a research agenda in the field.

Methods

The panel first reviewed a list of 84 models obtained through the preceding scoping review and contributed additional ideas in an open round. In a subsequent scoring round, the panel rated the priority of each model in terms of its potential to improve health care sustainability in Australia. Consensus was assumed when ≥50% of the panel rated a model as (very) high priority (consensus on high priority) or as not a priority or low priority (consensus on low priority).

Results

Eighty-two of 149 invited participants (55%) representing all Australian states/territories and wide expertise completed round one; 71 completed round two. Consensus on high priority was achieved for 59 alternative models; 14 were rated as (very) high priority by ≥70% of the panel. Top priorities included improving medical service provision in aged care facilities, providing single-point-access multidisciplinary care for people with chronic conditions and providing tailored early discharge and hospital at home instead of in-patient care. No consensus was reached on 47 models, but no model was deemed low priority.

Conclusions

Input from an expert stakeholder panel identified healthcare delivery models not previously synthesised in systematic reviews that are a priority to investigate. Strong consensus exists among stakeholders regarding which models require the most urgent attention in terms of (cost-)effectiveness research. These findings contribute to shaping a research agenda on healthcare delivery models and where stakeholder engagement in Australia is likely to be high. 

What is known about the topic? 

Healthcare expenditure is growing at an unsustainable rate in high-income countries worldwide. A recent scoping review of systematic reviews identified a substantial body of evidence about the effects of a wide range of models of healthcare service delivery that can inform health system improvements. Given the large number of systematic reviews available on numerous models of care, a method for gaining consensus on the models of highest priority for implementation (where evidence demonstrates this will lead to beneficial effects and resource savings) or for further research (where evidence about effects is uncertain) in the Australian context is warranted.What does this paper add?This paper describes a method for reaching consensus on high-priority alternative models of service delivery in Australia. Stakeholders with leadership roles in health policy and government organisations, hospital and primary care networks, academic institutions and consumer advocacy organisations were asked to identify and rate alternative models based on their knowledge of the healthcare system. We reached consensus among ≥70% of stakeholders that improving medical care in residential aged care facilities, providing single-point-access multidisciplinary care for patients with a range of chronic conditions and providing early discharge and hospital at home instead of in-patient stay for people with a range of conditions are of highest priority for further investigation.What are the implications for practitioners?Decision makers seeking to optimise the efficiency and sustainability of healthcare service delivery in Australia could consider the alternative models rated as high priority by the expert stakeholder panel in this Delphi study. These models reflect the most promising alternatives for increasing value in the delivery of health care in Australia based on stakeholders' knowledge of the health system. Although they indicate areas where stakeholder engagement is likely to be high, further research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of some of these models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Health Review
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2021

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