Hands on Finance

Article excerpt

Hands on finance Health care financial management Mary Courtney and David Briggs (editors) Elsevier Mosby, 2004 ISBN: 0 7295 3745 5. RRP: $50

FROM TIME TO TIME, the Australian Health Review will include multiple reviews regarding the same publication. This has been undertaken where the publication may be useful to different groups of readers and to provide readers of the AHR with different perspectives. To provide further information, a 5-star rating based on readability, useability and content has been included as part of the review. Happy reading!

Gary E Day

Book Review Editor, AHR

Text meets needs

This is a book on health care financial management produced under the editorial guidance of Professor Mary Courtney and David Briggs. This book replaces the 1997 text Financial management in health services by Mary Courtney. The book is quite different in its organisation and structure from the original text and this is a deliberate shift to address the growing importance of the aged care and community sectors.

The book is organised into four parts with focused chapters within these parts. Part 1 addresses the broad frameworks for health care financing and brings in international as well as Australian perspectives. Part 2 describes funding allocation mechanisms and looks at population-based resource allocation formulae, casemix, funding aged and community care as well as the funding of Medicare, health care insurance, and compensation and liability issues. Parts 3 and 4 look at the accounting framework and the detail of financial management, planning and control.

The chapters in this version are deliberately more directed towards particular topics and at times provide less detail than the comprehensive first edition. The introduction conveys that this is a deliberate approach and includes new chapters and subject matter not previously incorporated.

There were some areas of weakness and inconsistency, mostly related to editorial issues. At times, there could have been better linkage between sections and chapters, and in some instances the conclusions could have been stronger and challenged us further to understand the weaknesses and issues in our health system funding arrangements.

As a teaching tool it is a valuable text with specific learning objectives for each chapter, key points and a summary at the end of each chapter, and in most instances discussion questions to support each chapter. The text recognises that further information might be needed and the preface notes that "where authorative texts, journal articles, or websites are available on aspects under discussion the reader is advised and encouraged to refer to them for greater depth of understanding".

There is a real need for texts like this to support teaching in undergraduate and post-graduate financial management subjects in health and healthrelated disciplines. Of note, there is a deliberate shift in this version towards providing information on funding of aged, community care and disability services in recognition of their growing importance as part of the health care system. With some reservations, mostly related to editorial issues, I suggest that this book has a lot going for it. It is a good introduction to health care financial management, and a useful teaching tool which guides students seeking more detail to other resources.

Reviewer rating: ****

Students pointed in the right direction

Health care financial management is an introductory text which explores the financial management of health care systems predominantly in Australia, but also internationally.

The text is largely aimed at equipping students with a general understanding of the Australian health financing system, complemented by a basic understanding of introductory accounting concepts and principles. …