To analyze the efficiency of public hospitals in Guangdong Province, China, and to compare the differences by region and levels of care. To carry out a survey of selected hospitals in different cities by the method of cluster sampling and to analyze the efficiency of these hospitals using data envelopment analysis (DEA). 254 public hospitals were surveyed with a 100% response rate. About 184 (72.4%) completed the survey and gave realistic responses. 22 (11.96%) of the hospitals and facilities were totally efficient. The average total efficiency value was 0.727 (range 0.251 to 1), which indicated that the total efficiency of most of these hospitals were below average. There were also differences between hospitals in different regions. Comparatively, the proportion of efficient hospitals between regions and the levels of care were not significantly different. The average efficiency values in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) area hospitals were significantly higher than those in the non PRD area. This suggested that the prevalence of low efficiency and the wastage of resources were more serious in the non PRD area. Most of the hospitals in the non PRD area had increasing level efficiency and thus their level could be increased without loss of efficiency. More than half of the hospitals in PRD area had declining level efficiency suggesting they need downsizing to achieve better efficiency. There were no significant differences in the level of care in the different hospitals (tertiary, city secondary and county secondary hospitals). The lack of case-mix data for these hospitals could have been a major difficulty in the analysis. Waste of useful Resources was prevalent in public hospitals in Guangdong Province. The efficiency of hospitals in the PRD area was better than that in the non-PRD area. The management level and the efficient utilization of the current facilities and resources require further improvement.
Key words: Public hospital efficiency, resources, DEA analysis, Guangdong, Pearl River Delta, China.
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