The effects of DRGs-based payment compared with cost-based payment on inpatient healthcare utilization: A systematic review and meta-analysis

from Health Policy at on January 26, 2020 at 11:25AM

Publication date: Available online 25 January 2020

Source: Health Policy

Author(s): Zhaolin Meng, Wen Hui, Yuanyi Cai, Jiazhou Liu, Huazhang Wu


Diagnosis related groups (DRGs)-based payment is increasingly used worldwide to control hospital costs instead of pre-existing cost-based payment, but the results of evaluations vary. A systematic analysis of the effects of DRGs-based payment is needed. This study aims to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare the effects of DRGs-based payment and cost-based payment on inpatient health utilization in terms of length of stay (LOS), total inpatient spending per admission and readmission rates. We included studies undertaken with designs approved by the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care that reported associations between DRGs-based payment and one or more inpatient healthcare utilization outcomes. After a systematic search of eight electronic databases through October 2018, 18 studies were identified and included in the review. We extracted data and conducted quality assessment, systematic synthesis and meta-analyses on the included studies. Random-effects models were used to handle substantial heterogeneity between studies. Meta-analysis showed that DRGs-based payment was associated with lower LOS (pooled effect: -8.07% [95%CI -13.05 to -3.10], p = 0.001), and higher readmission rates (pooled effect: 1.36% [95%CI 0.45 to 2.27], p = 0.003). This meta-analysis revealed that DRGs-based payment may have cost-saving implications by lowering LOS, whereas hardly reduce the readmission rates. Policy-makers considering adopting DRGs-based payment should pay more attention to the hospital readmission rates compared with cost-based payment.