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BENCHMARKING FOR PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT: A HEALTH-CARE APPLICATION *

Daniel Ackerberg (), Matilde Machado () and Michael Riordan

International Economic Review, 2006, vol. 47, issue 1, 161-201

Abstract: A methodology is developed and applied to compare the performance of publicly funded agencies providing treatment for alcohol abuse in Maine. The methodology estimates a Wiener process that determines the duration of completed treatments, while allowing for agency differences in the effectiveness of treatment, costs of treatment, standards for completion of treatment, patient attrition, and the characteristics of patient populations. Notably, the Wiener process model separately identifies agency fixed effects that describe differences in the effectiveness of treatment ("treatment effects"), and effects that describe differences in the unobservable characteristics of patients ("population effects"). The estimated model enables hypothetical comparisons of how different agencies would treat the same populations. The policy experiment of transferring the treatment practices of more cost-effective agencies suggests that Maine could have significantly reduced treatment costs without compromising health outcomes by identifying and transferring best practices. Copyright 2006 by the Economics Department Of The University Of Pennsylvania And Osaka University Institute Of Social And Economic Research Association.

Date: 2006
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International Economic Review is currently edited by Harold L. Cole

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