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Pay-for-performance does not improve patient health
Date:1/25/2011

al research team identified 470,725 patients diagnosed with hypertension between January 2000 and August 2007, spanning four years prior, and three years after, Pay-for-Performance was implemented.

The researchers looked at various measures including blood pressures over time, rates of blood pressure monitoring, and hypertension outcomes as well as illnesses.

Analysis showed that even after allowing for a number of variations, there was no identifiable impact on the cumulative incidence of stroke, heart attacks, renal failure, heart failure or mortality in both patients who had started treatment before 2001 and patients whose treatment had started close to the implementation of Pay-for-Performance.

"Governments and private insurers throughout the world are likely wasting many billions on policies that assume that all you have to do is pay doctors to improve quality of medical care," says senior author Stephen Soumerai, professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. "Based on our study of almost 500,000 patients over seven years, that assumption is questionable at best."

According to Anthony Avery, also of University of Nottingham Medical School, "Doctor performance is based on many factors besides money that were not addressed in this program: patient behavior, continuing MD training, shared responsibility and teamwork with pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals. These are factors that reach far beyond simple monetary incentives."

"Policymakers sometimes legislate large and expensive policies based on their beliefs without the requisite hard evidence," says Soumerai. "Policy makers in the U.S. and in Canada who are attempting to enact such programs need to think hard about other more effective approaches."


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Contact: David Cameron
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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