Research suggests bigger is cheaper when it comes to intensive care.

A new report finds intensive care units cost the Australian healthcare system $2.1 billion each year, but larger units with increased occupancy are associated with lower costs.

Intensive care consultant at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, Dr Edward Litton, has found; “The mean cost per patient bed-day for all contributing ICUs in 2013-2014 was $4375. Today in 2019 this would almost $5000”.

“Higher ICU bed number and occupancy were each significantly associated with lower costs per patient bed-day; bed number did not influence annual cost per bed,” he and colleagues wrote in the report.

“The estimated total annual operational cost for ICU care in Australia was $2.119 billion, about

0.15 per cent of gross domestic product and 1.4 per cent of total health care costs. Staffing accounted for about 80 per cent of ICU operational costs. Larger ICUs were associated with lower costs for medical staff but not for nursing staff.”

The authors concluded that: “As ICU costs declined with size and occupancy, increasing ICU size may have improved health care system efficiency.”