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Quality or financing: what drives design of the health care system?
  1. V McLoughlin1,
  2. S Leatherman2
  1. 1Priorities and Quality Branch, Health Industry and Investment, Department of Health and Ageing, Australia
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, USA and Judge Institute, University of Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr V McLoughlin, MDP 46, GPO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia;


The scope and scale of problems in the quality of health service provision have been increasingly recognised in recent years. Policy and planning for financing are usually concerned with how funding is made available and allocated, rather than with what is being achieved, including the quality of health services delivered. A fundamental challenge is how to improve the delivery of health services to achieve improved patient outcomes and to optimize financial outcomes. To accomplish this it is essential that the debates on quality of care and financing are aligned. Approaches to improving the quality of care are drawn from Australia, the US, and the UK. Financing arrangments for care at a national level have a bearing on how payment incentives can be used to promote or impede quality. The level of overall expenditure is obviously important, as are the mechanisms for payment. Long term programs to build knowledge, standardise processes, provide credible performance data and foster accountability are required to ensure that further investments lead to improvement in care.

  • quality improvement
  • financing
  • performance

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