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Open Access Efficiency of community health centers in China during 2013‐2015: A synchronic and diachronic study*

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence.

Objective: We aimed to explore the efficiency of community health centers (CHCs) in China from 2013 to 2015, providing policy suggestions for optimizing the allocation of health resources.

Methods: Data on the efficiency of CHCs in 30 provinces/autonomous regions/municipalities in mainland China (except Tibet) from 2013 to 2015 were collected from China’s Health and Family Planning Statistical Yearbook 2014, China’s Health and Family Planning Statistical Yearbook 2015, and China’s Health and Family Planning Statistical Yearbook 2016. Data envelopment analysis and Malmquist index analysis were performed to investigate the efficiency of sampled CHCs during this period at the national level and the regional level. The applied input indicators include the numbers of CHCs, community health workers, and beds, and the output indicators consist of the numbers of visits and inpatients, the occupancy rate of beds, and the average length of stay.

Results: In 2015, the average annual overall technical efficiency, pure technical efficiency, and scale efficiency of CHCs in 30 regions at the national level were 0.715, 0.705, and 0.972, respectively. Eight regions (Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Chongqing, accounting for 26.7% of the total) had efficient CHCs with overall technical efficiency of 1.000, and the other 22 regions had surpluses of 131 CHCs, 5573 community health workers, and 2086 beds on average. In 2015, the average annual technical change index, pure technical efficiency change index, total factor productivity, technical efficiency change index, and scale efficiency change index of CHCs at the national level were 1.034, 1.002, 1.024, 0.990, and 0.988, respectively. Compared with 2013, the former three increased by 3.4%, 0.2%, and 2.4%, respectively, while the latter two decreased by 1.0% and 1.2%, respectively.

Conclusion: On the whole, efficiency improvements of CHCs were achieved at the national level from 2013 to 2015, but with obvious interregional differences. In regions with inefficient CHCs identified by data envelopment analysis, there was a problem of coexistence of shortage and wastage of community health resources. In view of this, targeted measures should be taken to optimize the allocation of community health resources, and the management of CHCs should be strengthened to improve the efficiency of these institutions.
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Keywords: Community health center; data envelopment analysis; efficiency; total factor productivity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2018

This article was made available online on 18 October 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Efficiency of community health centers in China during 2013–2015: A synchronic and diachronic study".

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript http://www.compuscript.com on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press http://www.chinagp.net.

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