This study aims to assess preferences and values for priority setting in healthcare in Chile through an original and innovative survey method. Based on the answers from a previous survey that look into the barriers the Chilean population face, this study considers the preferences of the communities overcoming those barriers. As a result six programs were identified: (1) new infrastructure, (2) better healthcare coverage, (3) increasing physicians/specialists, (4) new informatics systems, (5) new awareness healthcare programs, and (6) improving availability of drugs.
We applied an innovative survey method developed for this study to sample subjects to prioritize these programs by their opinion and by allocating resources. The survey also asked people’s preferences for a distributive justice principle for healthcare to guide priority setting of services in Chile. The survey was conducted with a sample of 1142 individuals.
More than half of the interviewees (56.4%) indicated a single program as their first priority, while 20.1% selected two of them as their first priority. To increase the number of doctors/specialists and improve patient-doctor communication was the program that obtained the highest priority. The second and third priorities correspond to improving and investing in infrastructure and expanding the coverage of healthcare insurances. Additionally, the results showed that equal access for equal healthcare is the principle selected by the majority to guide distributive justice for the Chilean health system.
This study shows how a large population sample can participate in major decision making of national health policies, including making a choice of a distributive justice principle. Despite the complexity of the questions asked, this study demonstrated that with an innovative method and adequate guidance, average population is capable of engaging in expressing their preferences and values. Results of this study provide policy-makers useful community generated information for prioritizing policies to improve healthcare access.