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Furthering Collaboration on DRG Health Payments at PMAC 2020


Panelists at one of the DRG sessions

As countries advance toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC) many have successfully adopted . 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 January 28-29, 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 Southeast Asia 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.