The importance of long term care sector is increasingly growing. Actually, the use of patient classification systems is a useful tool for the planning and management of health services for chronic and geriatric patients.
Despite being much less known, patient classification systems have had a richer and earlier development in the long term care sector than in the acute care sector. Thus, one could see the evolution from classifications based on the assessment of functional dependency to classifications progressively including variables corresponding to clinical complexity, and finally to complex systems such as RUG-III.
Patient classification systems were first utilised as tools for the financing of long term centres, based on the patients' characteristics. Later, their applications have spread out to objectives related to the management of centres, assessment of quality of care, staff allocation level, control of access and national policies. In Spain, the only experience in the use of a patient classification system is the one used by the Catalan Health Care Administration which uses a classification for the financing of their centres.