Sustainability in health care by allocating resources effectively (SHARE) 3: examining how resource allocation decisions are made, implemented and evaluated in a local healthcare setting

Claire Harris, Kelly Allen, Cara Waller, Vanessa Brooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This is the third in a series of papers reporting a program of Sustainability in Health care by Allocating Resources Effectively (SHARE) in a local healthcare setting. Leaders in a large Australian health service planned to establish an organisation-wide, systematic, integrated, evidence-based approach to disinvestment. In order to introduce new systems and processes for disinvestment into existing decision-making infrastructure, we aimed to understand where, how and by whom resource allocation decisions were made, implemented and evaluated. We also sought the knowledge and experience of staff regarding previous disinvestment activities. Methods: Structured interviews, workshops and document analysis were used to collect information from multiple sources in an environmental scan of decision-making systems and processes. Findings were synthesised using a theoretical framework. Results: Sixty-eight respondents participated in interviews and workshops. Eight components in the process of resource allocation were identified: Governance, Administration, Stakeholder engagement, Resources, Decision-making, Implementation, Evaluation and, where appropriate, Reinvestment of savings. Elements of structure and practice for each component are described and a new framework was developed to capture the relationships between them. A range of decision-makers, decision-making settings, type and scope of decisions, criteria used, and strengths, weaknesses, barriers and enablers are outlined. The term ‘disinvestment’ was not used in health service decision-making. Previous projects that involved removal, reduction or restriction of current practices were driven by quality and safety issues, evidence-based practice or a need to find resource savings and not by initiatives where the primary aim was to disinvest. Measuring resource savings is difficult, in some situations impossible. Savings are often only theoretical as resources released may be utilised immediately by patients waiting for beds, clinic appointments or surgery. Decision-making systems and processes for resource allocation are more complex than assumed in previous studies. Conclusion: There is a wide range of decision-makers, settings, scope and type of decisions, and criteria used for allocating resources within a single institution. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to report this level of detail and to introduce eight components of the resource allocation process identified within a local health service.

Original languageEnglish
Article number340
Number of pages21
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2017


  • De-adopt
  • De-list
  • Decision-making
  • Decommission
  • Disinvestment
  • Environmental scan
  • Health technology
  • Implementation
  • Resource allocation
  • TCP

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