Study:Medicare P4P doesn't boost hospital quality

While Medicare's new pay-for-performance program may have some effect on hospital quality, the financial incentives don't have any bigger impact than a hospital's voluntary improvement efforts, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, which looked at data from 54 hospitals in the Medicare P4P program, found that most improved on some important criteria during the test, for example by prescribing aspirin more frequently for heart attack patients. However, the study also found that 446 other hospitals with voluntary programs--which had no direct financial incentive to improve care--had similar quality and outcomes improvements over time. Researchers said that this doesn't mean P4P doesn't work, but that the incentives may not be large enough or weren't structured properly. They also note that the hospitals choosing to participate in the program were already high performers, making dramatic performance improvements unlikely.

To learn more about the study:
- read this HealthDay News item