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Pay-For-Performance May Not Pay Off, Study Finds

This article is more than 7 years old.

Medicare has spent tens of millions of dollars since 2004 paying doctors for improved care. But a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds no difference for patients.

The new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health says incentives paid to doctors — what's known as pay for performance — made no difference in mortality rates for more than six million patients. Lead author Ashish Jha says it may be that doctors weren't paid enough to compel change or that the payments weren't based on meaningful measures

"A lot of us believe that paying for performance is a good thing but how we do it is still something we don't understand," he said.

The study has broad implications as private insurers adopt pay for performance programs as well. "We found no evidence that the largest hospital-based pay-for-performance program led to a decrease in 30-day mortality," the study concludes. "Expectations of improved outcomes for programs modeled after Premier HQID should therefore remain modest."

Here's more analysis of the new study by Kaiser Health News.

This program aired on March 29, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.


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