Cataract surgery is very important to prevent blindness, but its productivity and efficiency in China are unknown. Our study aimed to evaluate the geographical distribution of cataract surgeons and prospectively identify the factors associated with the increased productivity in cataract surgery and efficiency in outpatient ophthalmic services in rural Chinese hospitals.
Data were prospectively collated from various hospital datasets and the census registered by the geographical unit county. Prior to mapping, the geographical location data of counties were cross-linked with the equivalent ophthalmologist and service output data to create categories and map multiple data attributes. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed to characterise the data stratified by county. Linear regression analyses were used to explore the factors associated with the increased productivity/efficiency.
The ophthalmologists, surgical productivity of ophthalmologists and outpatient efficacy of ophthalmologists significantly varied across counties. During the period between 2016 and 2018, the median (IQR) change in surgical productivity of and outpatient efficacy of ophthalmologists were 31.627 (-3.33 to 29.94) and 118.08 (-132.30 to 740.89). In the simple regression analysis for predictors of a high productivity change, only the increased number of phaco machine had statistical significance (p=0.003). In addition, only the gross domestic product per capita in 2016 was associated with an increased improvement in efficiency of outpatient services (p=0.008).
This study demonstrated that the ophthalmologist productivity and the efficiency of outpatient services were unequally geographically distributed, and their predictors were identified. Further studies to elucidate the extent of the problem and improve the health service delivery models are required.

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