Assessing and Improving Performance: A Longitudinal Evaluation of Priority Setting and Resource Allocation in a Canadian Health Region

Document Type : Original Article


1 Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 Planning and Performance Improvement, Northern Health Authority, Prince George, BC, Canada

3 School of Population and Public Health, The University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC, Canada


In order to meet the challenges presented by increasing demand and scarcity of resources, healthcare organizations are faced with difficult decisions related to resource allocation. Tools to facilitate evaluation and improvement of these processes could enable greater transparency and more optimal distribution of resources.
The Resource Allocation Performance Assessment Tool (RAPAT) was implemented in a healthcare organization in British Columbia, Canada. Recommendations for improvement were delivered, and a follow up evaluation exercise was conducted to assess the trajectory of the organization’s priority setting and resource allocation (PSRA) process 2 years post the original evaluation.
Implementation of RAPAT in the pilot organization identified strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s PSRA process at the time of the original evaluation. Strengths included the use of criteria and evidence, an ability to re-allocate resources, and the involvement of frontline staff in the process. Weaknesses included training, communication, and lack of program budgeting. Although the follow up revealed a regression from a more formal PSRA process, a legacy of explicit resource allocation was reported to be providing ongoing benefit for the organization. 
While past studies have taken a cross-sectional approach, this paper introduces the first longitudinal evaluation of PSRA in a healthcare organization. By including the strengths, weaknesses, and evolution of one organization’s journey, the authors’ intend that this paper will assist other healthcare leaders in meeting the challenges of allocating scarce resources.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 07 December 2016
  • Revise Date: 21 July 2017
  • Accept Date: 09 August 2017
  • First Publish Date: 01 April 2018