This article focuses on the lessons learned from stochastic frontier analysis studies of U.S. hospitals, of which at least 27 have been published. A brief discussion of frontier techniques is provided, but a technical review of the literature is not included because overviews of estimation issues have been published recently. The primary focus is on the correlates of hospital inefficiency. In addition to examining the association of market pressures and hospital inefficiency, the authors also examined the relationship between inefficiency and hospital behavior (e.g., hospital exits) and inefficiency and other measures of hospital performance (e.g., outcome measures of quality). The authors found that consensus is emerging on the relationship of some factors to hospital efficiency; however, further research is needed to better understand others. The application of stochastic frontier analysis to specific policy issues is in its infancy; however, the methodology holds promise for being useful in certain contexts.
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