The Healthy and Home Program in Saskatoon Health Region is meant for families with newborns. The purpose of the program is to achieve optimal pregnancy outcomes and healthy lives through provision of education and support to persons in hospital and in their homes. Some of the services include healthy and home visit with follows up relating to the health of the mother and newborn once they are discharged from hospital. The staff in the program includes a manager, prenatal health nurses, an assistant administrative, a part-time nutritionist, and prenatal outreach workers. The Healthy and Home will contact patients via telephone or visit them physically 1-2 days after discharge, assesse health and weight of the child, monitor recovery of the mother, assist her in breastfeeding, and answer any question the mother might have (Saskatoon Health Region, 2015a).
The program may have either economic advantage or disadvantage to the public and private sector. Taking into account stakeholders involved and the extent of services provided, supply and demand of the public health services may also be affected. This paper will discuss the principles of economics behind the health initiative, assess whether the program is micro or macroeconomic, determine whether the results are of private or public good, and explain how the program may affect supply and demand.
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Principles of Economics for Evaluating and Assessing the Need for the Initiative
The principles of health economics are similar to those of economics, but take a public health point of view. These principles include scarcity, supply and demand, opportunity, margin, cost, equity, efficiency, margin analysis, and distinction between need and demand. The following is an evaluation of the need for the Healthy and Home Program in consideration of the principles of demand.
Production, Resources, Scarcity, and Opportunity Cost
In any production, resources are required to transform inputs into outputs. Similarly, in the domain of public health resources are necessary. In Healthy and Home Program of Saskatoon Health Region, resources include the personnel required to learn the program. They include a manager, prenatal health nurses, an assistant administrative, a part-time nutritionist, and prenatal outreach workers. Conversion of inputs into outputs is always affected by mediating factors (Hicks, McGovern, Prior, & Smith, 2015). For instance, in this case the mediating factors to consider include consideration of whether the program is public or privately owned.
Scarcity of resources is another factor that needs to be considered. According to economics, resources are always limited in quantity. Therefore, choices are needed to decide which goods/services are to be produced, how to produce them, and who consumers are. Public health may not have enough capital or personnel to run the Healthy and Home Program, but the choices made to run the program have been taken for the public good (Barton, 2001). The term ‘economic good’ is used in economics to describe goods or services that are deemed to be relevant. Healthcare is an economic good. The program is also an economic good since the resources put in place are to ensure good health for mothers and newborns.
There are not enough healthcare resources to meet needs of all people, which therefore means that it is necessary to choose one service or good and forego the rest. This is known as opportunity cost. The opportunity cost derived from the Healthy and Home Program is that there will be a new generation of healthy mothers and healthy newborns, which implies a promising future for the community.
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Markets, Demand, and Supply
In health care, the market is persons interested in the health care initiative. Healthcare is different from the market described by the principles of economics because it is a basic need and people can pay anything to improve their health. The demand for healthcare improvement is very high, but the number of healthcare providers may be lower than the demand. The demand can be analyzed in terms of goods and services. Since there is the need for health of mothers and children, it can be described as a service. Supply, in turn, is related to input and output resources. It can also be looked at in terms of market structure (Parkin, 2009). The Healthy and Home Program can look at how many other firms are providing the same service and what the profit they generate. Otherwise, the Healthy and Home Program can also look at the initiative not only in terms of profit generated, but also in terms of the benefit of the initiative to the population.
The Principle of the Margin
According to economics, margins are benefits or costs incurred by changing the allocation of resources slightly. Similarly, the same principle can be applied when looking at benefits and costs that are incurred by the Healthy and Home Program. The program shifts resources from normal operations of the hospital to home-based services (Parkin, 2009). The benefit that may be derived is improved health of mothers and children and the hospital may earn extra coins from such services.
Efficiency and Equity
Healthcare can be looked at in three different forms of efficiency such as technical, economic, and social one. Technical efficiency is the relationship between input and output resources. The Healthy and Home Program cannot operate normally if the hospital does not employ more personnel to deal with home-based services. Economic efficiency is viewed in terms of cost and not physical resources like technical efficiency. If more persons are employed to deal with the Healthy and Home Program, the hospital must achieve more profits and render more healthy services. If for a given price of goods and services there is consumer maximized utility, then social efficiency will be achieved. This is not however practical in health economics. Markets do not work perfectly; hence, there is no social efficiency (Parkin, 2009).
Equity is vital in healthcare. People are concerned with how resources are allocated more than with any other good or service provided by the hospital. When the Healthy and Home Program is launched, it affects provision of services to those who are at hospital. Personnel operating in the hospital have to be increased in number as a result.
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Description of Whether the Program Is Micro or Macroeconomic
The Healthy and Home Program is a microeconomic program. The reason for this is the fact that decisions made by the hospital affect individuals and the hospital only. Microeconomics concerns supply and demand and all other factors that will determine the price of services or goods (Pettinger, 2013). The Healthy and Home Program is a regional program and not a national program. It is therefore focused on improving health of mothers and newborns in the region of Saskatoon and not the entire country. The prices of services are also determined by the institution and not the government.
Results of The Healthy and Home Program
The initiative started by Saskatoon is focused on improvement of lives of mothers and newborn babies. Mothers can access services by contacting Saskatoon Regional Health personnel who are available seven days of the week from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm (Saskatoon Regional Health Authority, n.d.). Within two weeks, the program caters for low income families at a risk in terms of food security, isolation, inadequate housing, mental health issues, substance use, and abusive relationship. All these persons are catered for on a public basis. Anyone with the above specifications can assess the Healthy and Home Program services. Results of the initiative include a population with healthy mothers and children. Results of the initiatives are therefore aimed at the public good (Tuffaha, Gordon, & Scuffham, 2014).
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How Supply and Demand Are Affected by the Program
The program is aimed at serving mothers and newborns by giving mothers information on breastfeeding issues, hygiene, and care for the newborn. The process involves contacting families via phone or by physical visitation at their homes. This process requires a change of practice by the health personnel (Saskatoon Health Region, 2015b). For instance, instead of taking care of patients at the hospital, some nurses will be required to forego their activities in the hospital and attend to mothers at home.
This will affect the supply of personnel, as well as resources allocated to healthcare facilities. The demand for services in the hospital may also rise if the number of mothers at home requiring home-based services increases. This will hence affect normal operations in the hospital.
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Saskatoon Regional Health Authority has started the Healthy and Home Program, which caters for the wellbeing of mothers that have given birth to newborns. The program visits mothers at home within two weeks after giving birth to educate them on matters that concern breastfeeding, hygiene, and care for newborns. It also targets teens that are at a risk relating to low income families, food security, isolation, inadequate housing, mental health issues, substance use, and abusive relationship. The program is thus aimed at improving the wellbeing of the public at large.
This initiative can also be looked at in terms of the principles of economics. They include scarcity, supply and demand, opportunity, margin, cost, equity, efficiency, margin analysis, and distinction between need and demand. The program will affect resources allocated for the healthcare and, hence, the demand of services in the hospital will increase. Resources may include healthcare personnel and monetary funds needed to run the program. Since the initiative is a microeconomic program, price and extent of the services are determined by the institution and not the government.