Pay for performance improves mortality rates

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In addition to cost savings, new British research finds that hospital pay for performance can saves lives.

University of Manchester researchers looked at hospitals which qualified for up to a 4 percent payment increase for 28 quality measures in acute myocardial infarction, coronary-artery bypass grafting, heart failure, hip and knee surgery and pneumonia under England's Advancing Quality program, according to the study published online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Study authors found that under the alternative payment model, mortality rates dropped 1.3 percent, totaling 890 fewer deaths, The Washington Post reported.

Researchers, however, noted that even with this study, there's little research that directly ties financial incentives to hospital outcomes.

"We cannot be certain from these results what caused the reduced mortality associated with the introduction of financial incentives for hospitals in England, but the possibility of a substantial effect of the incentives on mortality cannot be excluded," they wrote.

Nevertheless, with similar goals of quality improvement and cost savings, the U.K. study offers some hope for the American payment reform system, as the country moves away from fee for service. The United States spends $750 billion on unnecessary care each year, according to an Institute of Medicine report in September.

For more information:
- see the Washington Post article
- check out the NEJM study

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