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Health at a Glance 2009

OECD Indicators

image of Health at a Glance 2009
This fifth edition of Health at a Glance provides the latest comparable data on different aspects of the performance of health systems in OECD countries. It provides striking evidence of large variations across countries in the costs, activities and results of health systems. Key indicators provide information on health status, the determinants of health, health care activities and health expenditure and financing in OECD countries.

This edition also contains new chapters on the health workforce and on access to care, an important policy objective in all OECD countries. The chapter on quality of care has been extended to include a set of indicators on the quality of care for chronic conditions.

Each indicator in the book is presented in a user-friendly format, consisting of charts illustrating variations across countries and over time, brief descriptive analyses highlighting the major findings conveyed by the data, and a methodological box on the definition of the indicator and any limitations in data comparability. An annex provides additional information on the demographic and economic context within which health systems operate, as well as a concise description of key characteristics in health system financing and delivery of services in OECD countries.

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Average length of stay in hospitals

The average length of stay in hospitals (ALOS) is often treated as an indicator of efficiency. All other things being equal, a shorter stay will reduce the cost per discharge and shift care from inpatient to less expensive post-acute settings. However, shorter stays tend to be more service intensive and more costly per day. Too short a length of stay could also cause adverse effect on health outcomes, or reduce the comfort and recovery of the patient. If this leads to a rising readmission rate, costs per episode of illness may fall little, or even rise.

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