Aim: Analyze the cost of inpatient stays. Stays are defined by the interval between the admission of the patients and their discharges from acute somatic care hospitals. If different stays are merged for reimbursement purpose (SwissDRGs rules), each stay is taken into consideration in its original form (stay definition).

Numerator: Total amount of resources consumed (without investment costs).

Denominator: All discharges in acute somatic care units. Stays assigned to Swiss statistics codes M500, M900, M950, M990 (only if the average length of stay exceed 10 days) are excluded. Stays with a zero length of stay are also excluded (only among stays grouped according to SwissDRGs rules).

Interpretation: Expected costs are computed based on average costs per diagnosis and procedure category among Swiss hospitals with high performances 2011-2014 (benchmark, mean cost = 8’618 Swiss francs).

Output files: Results are given by hospital and site in Cost.xlsx file. There are detailed by hospital stay in Analysis.txt. General information about SQLape output files can be found here.

Strength of the indicator: In comparisons with DRG groupers, the results obtained with SQLape® are more robust to coding habits. In particular, they do not depend on the choice of the code considered as the main diagnosis. The grouper also better takes into account complex patients with multiple severe co-morbidities or interventions. Several hospitals prefer using SQLape® grouper to provide costs per patients’ categories which are clinically relevant to physicians. Although the patients’ classification is based on more than 900 groups to adjust for case mix accurately, results can be summarized in about 200 medical groups and 180 surgical groups easy to interpret.

Another advantage is that SQLape® does not over-adjust for complications. Indeed these conditions (including diagnoses usually associated to complications or immediate causes of death) are not taken into account in the computation of expected values. As a results, while DRGs would fail to detect over-costs due to complications, SQLape® would screened these costs. Another advantage of SQLape® is that its results are stratified according to the context of the stay: back home with or without a potentially avoidable readmission, waiting for nursing home bed, medical justification of the stay, transfer, etc.

Limitations: Some cantons have many rehabilitation or acute geriatric beds (up to 30% of acute somatic care beds), other very few. This might cause distortions in inter-regional comparisons. A solution might consist in aggregating acute and rehabilitation stays.

Scientific validation: Marazzi A, Gardiol L, Duong HD. New approaches to reimbursement schemes based on DRGs and their comparison. Health Services Management Research 2007; 20(3):203-210.