The Health Care Policy Process

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SAGE, Jul 31, 1996 - Social Science - 187 pages
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The Health Care Policy Process enables the reader to develop a clear understanding of the scope and objectives of health policy studies, to analyze the extent to which policies can be changed or influenced by those involved at the different stages of the policy process, and to assess both the need and the scope for change. The author considers the relationship between planning and policy, looks at key concepts in analyzing health care issues, and examines some of the debates overshadowing today's health policy agenda.

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During the last two decades, much has been written about public policy issues in general. However, the book titled “The Health Care Policy Process” focused on policy making from the perspective of the healthcare professional in specific. The book is a comprehensive effort to put the current knowledge of policy process together with contemporary issues and debates in healthcare, to act as a guide for healthcare managers, and help them further understand the scope and objectives of policy studies related to the field of healthcare.
The book, certainly, is approachable, written in an easy language with an interdisciplinary readership in mind. It is intended for healthcare managers and students of healthcare policy, in addition to those interested or involved in the policy process, whether as policy makers, researchers, managers, or healthcare professionals with roles in policy making or implementation.
The book is divided into five parts, each presenting a set of chapters based around a step in the healthcare policy process. Each part begins with a short introduction that familiarizes the reader with the upcoming chapters. And, each chapter ends with a summary section that sums up the main points of the preceding arguments. The author made a good use of subheadings which were wisely spread, making it easy to navigate throughout the text.
The body of the text starts with an overview of what policies are; the relationship between policy and planning; and how the healthcare system dynamically interacts with the surrounding environment. The first part of this book aims to provide readers with a working knowledge of policy analysis in the healthcare sector. Hence, it covers topics very basic to the public policy literature in general and health policy in specific. They include topics such as the importance of health policy-making, the value of healthcare, and the such.
The second part sets out to provide the methodological tools, approaches, and methods of conducting a policy study. Here, the author discusses whether a distinction is to be made between policy studies for the healthcare manager and those written for an academic purpose; she highlights the pros and cons of different approaches for conducting policy studies. Moreover, Part II helps create a base upon which the reader can critically make decisions about the kinds of policy studies.
In the third part, Carol Barker provides the reader with the knowledge and tools necessary to objectively analyze healthcare policies. She highlights a number of areas of key importance in analyzing health policy today. In addition, important concepts relevant to healthcare policy, like power, professionalism and bureaucracy, were examined.
In Part IV, the author explores some of the challenges and debates that are of a great influence on the contemporary health policy-making, like poverty, equity of healthcare access, and privatization within the healthcare system. In discussing each of these health challenges, she presents contrasting opinions of other authors and views the evidence in favor of and against each of them, creating a form of intellectual controversy.
The book ends with a very important chapter: a discussion of the applications of theoretical policy models to real life. In Part V, the author discusses the feasibility (or practicability) of applying policy models and theories to real life phenomena, and whether such application actually help improves the healthcare system outcomes in practice. She tackles a number of important questions like “Does study of health care policies lead to an improvement in the way policies are made?” and “Do policy studies have the capacity to improve the policy making process?”
The use of overview boxes to discuss examples relating to the text made it easier to relate real life examples to the theoretical models of policy process. Similarly, figures and algorithms were smartly used to illustrate details of the relationship between different parts of policy models. The depth of content is somehow sacrificed

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What Are Health Policies and How Are They Made?
What Does Health Care Do for Society?
The Policy Process
Studying Health Care Policies
Designing a Policy Study
What kinds of evidence are available for policy studies?
In summary
Analysing Health Care Policies
Key Issues in Health Policy
Aid and the Health Sector
Privatisation within the Health Sector
Can the Study of Health Policy Improve the Process?

Professionalism and Bureaucracy

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Page 175 - ... Inequalities in Health, Report, HMSO. 22 New (1996) The Rationing Agenda in the NHS', pp. 1594-9. 23 Ham, C. (1995) 'Synthesis: What Can We Learn From International Experience', British Medical Bulletin, vol. 51, no. 4, pp. 819-30. 24 Redmayne, S. (1996) Small Steps Big Goals: Purchasing Policies in the NHS, National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts, Research Paper No. 21, p. 7, pp. 1591-3. Lenaghan, J., New, B. and Mitchell, M. (1996) 'Setting Priorities: Is there a Role for Citizens'...

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