Health care funding reforms are being used worldwide to improve system performance but may invoke unintended consequences. We assessed the effects of introducing a targeted hospital funding model, based on fixed price and volume, for hip fractures. We hypothesized the policy change was associated with reduction in wait times for hip fracture surgery, increase in wait times for non-hip fracture surgery, and increase in the incidence of after-hours hip fracture surgery.
This was a population-based, interrupted time series analysis of 49,097 surgeries for hip fractures, 10,474 for ankle fractures, 1,594 for tibial plateau fractures, and 40,898 for appendectomy at all hospitals in Ontario, Canada between April 2012 and March 2017. We used segmented regression analysis of interrupted monthly time series data to evaluate the impact of funding reform enacted April 1, 2014 on wait time for hip fracture repair (from hospital presentation to surgery) and after-hours provision of surgery (occurring between 1700 and 0700 h). To assess potential adverse consequences of the reform, we also evaluated two control procedures, ankle and tibial plateau fracture surgery. Appendectomy served as a non-orthopedic tracer for assessment of secular trends.
The difference (95 % confidence interval) between the actual mean wait time and the predicted rate had the policy change not occurred was − 0.46 h (-3.94 h, 3.03 h) for hip fractures, 1.46 h (-3.58 h, 6.50 h) for ankle fractures, -3.22 h (-39.39 h, 32.95 h) for tibial plateau fractures, and 0.33 h (-0.57 h, 1.24 h) for appendectomy (Figure 1; Table 3). The difference (95 % confidence interval) between the actual and predicted percentage of surgeries performed after-hours − 0.90 % (-3.91 %, 2.11 %) for hip fractures, -3.54 % (-11.25 %, 4.16 %) for ankle fractures, 7.09 % (-7.97 %, 22.14 %) for tibial plateau fractures, and 1.07 % (-2.45 %, 4.59 %) for appendectomy.
We found no significant effects of a targeted hospital funding model based on fixed price and volume on wait times or the provision of after-hours surgery. Other approaches for improving hip fracture wait times may be worth pursuing instead of funding reform.