Cost Efficiency of the Family Physician Plan in Fars Province, Southern Iran

Document Type: Original Article(s)

Authors

1 Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Department of Health Management, School of Management and Information Sciences, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 HIV/AIDS Research Center, Building No. 2, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

4 Office of Health System Research, Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, Jahrom, Iran

Abstract

Background: In recent years use of family physicians has been determined as a start point of health system reform to achieve more productive health services. In this study we aimed to assess the cost-efficiency of the implementation of this plan in Fars province, southern Iran.
Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive study was done in 2007 in 18 provincial health centers as well as 224 rural health centers in Fars province. Data were collected using forms, statistics, and available evidence and analyzed by expert opinion and ratio techniques, control of process statistics, and multi indicator decision model.
Results: Although in the family physician plan more attention is paid to patients and the level of health training, availability, and equity has improved and the best services are presented, it has not only decreased the costs, but also increased the referrals to pharmacies, laboratories, and radiology clinics and the costs of healthcare.
Conclusion: Although the family physician plan has led to more regular service delivery, it has increased the patients’ referral to pharmacies, laboratories, and radiology centers and more referrals to family physicians. It seems that the possibility of setting regularity in health system can be gained in the following years of the family physician program mainly via planning, appropriate management and organizing correct health plans according to need assessments, and continual supervision on activities, which would happen according to current experiences in this plan.