Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2021
Purpose: Pressure on Australia’s healthcare system is increasing annually due to corresponding increases in chronic diseases such as obesity and rapidly ageing population growth across Australia, resulting in requirements for increased funding. This study investigates the financial impact to hospitals due to inaccurate obese patient recording and coding.
Background: Australian healthcare organisations receive Activity-Based Funding (ABF) which provides reimbursement of costs relating to the type of patient care delivered and the resources required for the patient treatment. Accurate healthcare data are essential to ensure accuracy of ABF and appropriate reimbursement of costs incurred by hospitals that manage obese patients. Managing obese patients results in operational funding requirements such as increased staffing and purchasing of equipment such as hoists, bariatric wheelchairs and bariatric beds, and hospitals must ensure that these clinical requirements are documented accurately in order to be reimbursed of these costs by way of ABF.
Methods: This study identifies the financial implications of inaccurate obesity data within the Western Australian Country Health Service (WACHS) and examines factors that may affect obesity data recording accuracy. The study involves 85 cases of identified obesity data recording inaccuracy that were adjusted by entering corrected obesity codes, which then adjusted Diagnosis-related Groups, National Weighted Activity Units and Activity-Based Funding results.
Results: The study demonstrated estimated annual lost funding opportunities of $2.23 million due to obesity coding inaccuracy. An annual average of 616 cases of obesity data inaccuracy was calculated with an average lost funding opportunity of $3625 per case.
Conclusion: Improvements are required in the clinical recording and coding of patient obesity, such as mandatory recording of patient weight and height data and automated BMI calculations within electronic patient records. Enhanced obesity recording and coding accuracy will result in increased funding opportunities and reduced cost burdens that hospitals currently experience when required to fund obesity-related clinical and safety requirements within operational budgets.
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Safety and quality in health care