659/2023 Sonia Bhalotra, Letícia Nunes, Rudi Rocha
Hospitals are under increasing pressure as they bear a growing burden of chronic disease while also dealing with emergency cases that do not all require hospital care. Many countries have responded by introducing alternative facilities that provide 24/7 care for basic and medium-complexity cases. Using administrative data, we investigate impacts of the opening of these intermediate facilities (UPA) in the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. We find that an UPA opening in the catchment area of a hospital reduces hospital outpatient procedures and admissions and that this is associated with improved hospital performance. There is a decline in inpatient mortality, particularly mortality from the more complex conditions that hospitals are best equipped to deal with. There is no discernible change in the risk profile of cases going to hospital, and no concurrent policy changes that can account for these findings. In order to capture displacement effects, we investigate city-level population outcomes. We find that two-thirds of the decline in hospital mortality is offset by deaths in UPAs. Looking at individual death causes, we see a net decline in deaths from congestive heart failure.