Administrative Costs in Health Care—A Scoping Review

from Health Policy at on August 30, 2018 at 02:46PM

Publication date: Available online 29 August 2018

Source: Health Policy

Author(s): Eugenia Larjow


Administrative costs (AC) are a relevant spending category in health care and several approaches exist on how to define and measure them. Based on available AC studies, this paper aims to provide a map for this multifaceted research topic.


A scoping review was conducted using the databases MEDLINE, EconLit, and Business Source Premier. Literature was screened focussing on the research question: What is known about the methodology of AC research from scientific publications?


Definition concepts mostly rely on national cost documentations. The international cost reporting framework of the Systems of Health Accounts was a critical reference point in six studies. Indications on how to operationalise AC independently from periodical cost reports were suggested by ten publications. In this context, time and full time equivalents are the most common cost measurements.


The results indicate a lack of evidence regarding patients’ perceptions of administrative issues in health care. Also, research on administrative impact on working conditions for health care employees beyond hospitals and physicians’ offices is underrepresented. A systematic approach to reporting AC studies is needed. Reporting should include the appointment of entities actually empowered to change administrative resource usage. This would help to promote principles of a balanced administration.