Study: Pay-for-performance doesn't work

Pay-for-performance initiatives that tie better outcomes to financial incentives for physicians don't work, according to a study published recently in the British Medical Journal. The finding comes from an examination of the impact of performance targets on quality of care and outcomes among British patients with hypertension.

Pay for performance had no discernible effect on the processes of care or on hypertension related clinical outcomes, according to the study's authors.

"By no measure does Pay-for-Performance benefit patients with hypertension. Based on our study of almost 500,000 patients over seven years, that assumption is questionable at best," co-author Professor Stephen Soumerai of the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute said in a statement.

Soumerai claims governments and private insurers are wasting billions of dollars on policies that assume financial incentives will get doctors to improve the quality of medical care.

To learn more:
- here's the British Medical Journal article
- read the press release
- here's the Reuters story

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