Measuring the Efficiency of Public Hospitals in Kuwait: A Two-Stage Data Envelopment Analysis and a Qualitative Survey Study

  •  Abdullah M. Alsabah    
  •  Hassan Haghparast-Bidgoli    
  •  Jolene Skordis    


The recent drop in oil prices has challenged public sector financing in Kuwait. Technical and scale efficiency scores for fifteen public hospitals in Kuwait from 2010 to 2014 were estimated using a two-stage data envelopment analysis (DEA). Technical efficiency scores were regressed against institutional characteristics using Tobit regression to investigate the determinants of efficiency differences in hospitals. Semi-structured interviews were also carried out with fourteen public and private hospital managers to qualitatively explore their perceptions and experience about about factors affecting hospital efficiency.

The mean technical efficiency score for all hospitals was 85.8%, an improvement of 2% since 2010. The mean pure technical efficiency score was 79.6%, improving from 75% in 2010 to 81.2% in 2014. The mean scale efficiency score was 91.8%, improving from 87.6% in 2010 to 94.2% in 2014. Only three hospitals were constantly technically and scale efficient. Tobit regression showed that hospital efficiency was significantly associated with the average length of patient stay. Hospitals with more than 400 beds were potentially more technically and scale efficient. The qualitative study revealed that external factors affecting efficiency commonly included implemention of legislative changes and decreasing bureaucracy, while internal factors included increasing bed capacity and improving qualifications and training of human resources.

Most public hospitals in Kuwait were not technically and scale efficient, but improvements were observed. Potential factors that affected the efficiency of hospitals in Kuwait were identified. These findings are useful to decision-makers in Kuwait for developing strategies to improve public hospital efficiency.

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