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Health Policy Plan. 2015 Dec;30(10):1261-71. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czu135. Epub 2015 Jan 18.

The experience of purchaser-provider split in the implementation of family physician and rural health insurance in Iran: an institutional approach.

Author information

1
Department of Global Health and Public Policy, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, National Academy of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, UK, takian@tums.ac.ir takiana@gmail.com.
2
Department of Global Health and Public Policy, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, Department of Health Management and Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, Knowledge Utilization Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
3
School of Management and Medical Informatics, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran and Iranian Center of Excellence in Health Management, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Iranian health system, under the banner of family physician (FP) programme, has undergone substantial reforms to change utilization of health services, improve quality of care and enhance affordability. The national implementation of FP initiated in 2005 in parallel with rural health insurance (RHI) in rural areas and cities of <20 000 populations in Iran. The implementation of FP was the first national attempt to split the purchaser and provider of the primary health-care services in Iran. Using an adapted institutional approach, this article aims to explore the process of purchaser-provider split (PPS) during the implementation of FP and RHI reforms, and its consequences for the health system in Iran.

METHODS:

We conducted 71 face-to-face interviews and three focus group discussions at national, provincial and local levels with policy makers, managers, researchers, health-care practitioners and representatives of the public. Interviews and focus groups were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data collection was supplemented by the review of relevant documents at all three levels. We analysed the data using an inductive-deductive framework analysis approach.

RESULTS:

Views towards PPS and its consequences on the implementation of FP were diverse. Some participants identified the PPS as an essential reform for undertaking the parallel implementation of FP and RHI. Others wondered whether the split has been beneficial as expected and asked for more scrutiny.

CONCLUSIONS:

The implementation of FP and RHI in Iran demonstrated the mixed effects of PPS on health system performance. Our research revealed that PPS did not succeed in changing the status quo, became a reason for fighting, misunderstanding, lack of co-operation and failure of the fragile partnership between the purchaser and provider. We advocate careful contextual preparation prior to large-scale application of PPS during nationwide implementation of FP in Iran as well as other settings.

KEYWORDS:

Family physician (FP); Iran; purchaser–provider split (PPS); rural health insurance (RHI)

PMID:
25601760
DOI:
10.1093/heapol/czu135
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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