Exploring health professionals’ perspectives on factors affecting Iranian hospital efficiency and suggestions for improvement

Hossein Haji Ali Afzali, John R Moss, Mohammad Afzal Mahmood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


While numerous studies have been undertaken in many developed countries and in a few developing countries, there has so far been no systematic attempt to identify factors affecting efficiency in the Iranian hospitals. This study was designed to elicit the perspectives of a group of health professionals and managers so as to analyse factors affecting the efficiency of hospitals owned by the Iranian Social Security Organization (SSO), which is the second largest institutional source of hospital care in that country. This study also aimed to identify actions that would improve efficiency. Using purposive sampling (to identify key informants), interviews with seventeen health professionals and hospital managers involved in the SSO health system were conducted. The respondents identified a number of organizational factors affecting efficiency, particularly the hospital budgeting and payment system used to fund physicians, and the lack of the managerial skills needed to manage complex facilities such as hospitals. The interviewees stressed the necessity for reforms of the regulatory framework to improve efficiency. A few participants recommended the concept of a funder-provider split. The results of this exploratory study have provided meaningful insight into Iranian health professionals views of factors affecting efficiency, and of possible remedial actions. It is expected that the findings will provide guidance for health policy makers and hospital managers in the Iranian SSO to analyse factors affecting efficiency and to identify remedial actions to improve efficiency. Hospitals in other developing countries may be affected by similar factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e17-e29
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • hospital efficiency
  • health policy
  • hospital funding
  • Qualitative methods
  • Health policy
  • Hospital funding
  • Hospital efficiency


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