As countries advance towards UHC many have successfully adopted Diagnosis-Related Group (DRG) payments as an efficient and sustainable method to pay for their health services. To further these reforms, the 3rd Experts Meeting on Collaboration for DRG Development and Reform in South-East Asia (SEA-DRG) was held in Bangkok to share knowledge and experience, and advance collaboration among experts in the region.
The two-day event was held on 28-29 January 2020 as a side meeting of the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC 2020) whose theme was “Accelerating Progress Towards Universal Health Coverage”. Many countries in SEA are transitioning to DRG which is a system that classifies hospital cases into clinically similar groups where payment per episode of care is fixed for patients within a single DRG category regardless of actual costs. By paying a fixed amount for a given diagnosis, DRGs can help overcome escalating health care costs, hospital inefficiencies, low admission rates as well as excessive service provision. In sum, DRGs are introduced into a financing system to enhance efficiency and sustainability of health spending.
The objectives of the meeting, which was organized by the World Bank and Thailand’s National Health Security Office, included: improving technical knowledge about diagnosis and procedure classification systems and how they are updated and used in the DRG grouping algorithm modifications; increasing awareness of how other countries approach regulations about data gathering and sharing in relation to DRG development and implementation; and advancing opportunities for intra-regional collaboration in diagnostic and procedure coding systems, information gathering and regulations, and grouping.
At the meeting, the World Bank also launched its new book on “Transition to Diagnosis-Related Group (DRG) Payments for Health” which includes nine case studies, from early adopters like Australia and US Medicare through European countries to regional trailblazers like Thailand.