Variation in healthcare remains endemic, with many articles published in the past 40 years identifying the existence of variations in health care across demographic groups, geographic areas, institutions and even individual health care providers within a single institution and in hospital treatment rates.
There is also evidence of variations in general medical practice and between general practitioners (GPs) and practices, with variations identified in areas such as the frequency of contacts, registration of diagnoses, diagnostic test ordering, referrals, prescription rates, and return visits.
Mapping variations presents some clear directions of travel. For instance, if there is variation
in rates of admission to stroke units, it is obvious that the rate of admission needs to
increase in those populations in which the rate of admission is low. Unwarranted variations
offer health services in every country the opportunity to obtain greater value from