Sustainability of Quality Improvement Following Removal of Pay-for-Performance Incentives
Although pay-for-performance (P4P) has become a central strategy for improving quality in US healthcare, questions persist about the effectiveness of these programs. A key question is whether quality improvement that occurs as a result of P4P programs is sustainable, particularly if incentives are removed. To investigate sustainability of performance levels following removal of performance-based incentives. Observational cohort study that capitalized on a P4P program within the Veterans Health Administration (VA) that included adoption and subsequent removal of performance-based incentives for selected inpatient quality measures. The study sample comprised 128 acute care VA hospitals where performance was assessed between 2004 and 2010. VA system managers set annual performance goals in consultation with clinical leaders, and report performance scores to medical centers on a quarterly basis. These scores inform performance-based incentives for facilities and their managers. Bonuses are distributed based on the attainment of these performance goals. Seven quality of care measures for acute coronary syndrome, heart failure, and pneumonia linked to performance-based incentives. Significant improvements in performance were observed for six of seven quality of care measures following adoption of performance-based incentives and were maintained up to the removal of the incentive; subsequently, the observed performance levels were sustained. This is a quasi-experimental study without a comparison group; causal conclusions are limited. The maintenance of performance levels after removal of a performance-based incentive has implications for the implementation of Medicare's value-based purchasing initiative and other P4P programs. Additional research is needed to better understand human and system-level factors that mediate sustainability of performance-based incentives.
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Over the last decade, various pay-for-performance (P4P) programs have been implemented to improve quality in health systems, including the VHA. P4P programs are complex, and their effects may vary by design, context, and other implementation processes. We conducted a systematic review and key informant (KI) interviews to better understand the implementation factors that modify the effectiveness of P4P. Methods: We searched PubMed, PsycINFO, and CINAHL through April 2014, and reviewed reference lists. We included trials and observational studies of P4P implementation. Two investigators abstracted data and assessed study quality. We interviewed P4P researchers to gain further insight. Results: Among 1363 titles and abstracts, we selected 509 for full-text review, and included 41 primary studies. Of these 41 studies, 33 examined P4P programs in ambulatory settings, 7 targeted hospitals, and 1 study applied to nursing homes. Related to implementation, 13 studies examined program design, 8 examined implementation processes, 6 the outer setting, 18 the inner setting, and 5 provider characteristics. Results suggest the importance of considering underlying payment models and using statistically stringent methods of composite measure development, and ensuring that high-quality care will be maintained after incentive removal. We found no conclusive evidence that provider or practice characteristics relate to P4P effectiveness. Interviews with 14 KIs supported limited evidence that effective P4P program measures should be aligned with organizational goals, that incentive structures should be carefully considered, and that factors such as a strong infrastructure and public reporting may have a large influence. Discussion: There is limited evidence from which to draw firm conclusions related to P4P implementation. Findings from studies and KI interviews suggest that P4P programs should undergo regular evaluation and should target areas of poor performance. Additionally, measures and incentives should align with organizational priorities, and programs should allow for changes over time in response to data and provider input.
- "27 Two studies examined changes in incentives within the VHA. Benzer et al. (2013) evaluated the effect of incentive removal and found that all improvements were sustained for up to 3 years. 22 Similarly, Hysong and others (2011) evaluated changes in measure status, that is, the effect on performance when measures shift from being passive monitored (i.e., no incentive) to actively monitored (i.e., incentivized), and vice versa. "
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The goal of this study was to evaluate the trend in urinary tract infections (UTIs) from 2005 to 2009 and determine the initial impact of Medicare's nonpayment policy on the rate of UTIs in acute care hospitals. October 2008 commenced Medicare's nonpayment policy for the additional care required as a result of hospital-acquired conditions, including catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs). CAUTIs are the most common form of hospital-acquired infections. Rates of CAUTIs were analyzed by patient and hospital characteristics at the hospital level on a quarterly basis, yielding 20 observation points. October 2008 was used as the intervention point. A time series analysis was conducted using the 2005-2009 Nationwide Inpatient Sample datasets. A repeated measures Poisson regression growth curve model was used to analyze the rate of CAUTIs by hospital characteristics. The annual rate of CAUTIs continues to rise; however the annual rate of change is starting to decline. The change in rate of CAUTIs was not significantly different before and after the policy's payment change. The results of the adjusted time series analysis show that various hospital characteristics were associated with a significant decline in rate of CAUTIs in quarters 16-20 (after the policy implementation) compared to the rate in time 1-15 (before the policy implementation), while other characteristics were associated with a significant increase in CAUTIs. Medicare's nonpayment policy was not associated with a reduction in hospitals' CAUTI rates. The use of administrative data, improper coding of CAUTIs at the hospital level, and the short time period post-policy implementation were all limitations in this study.
- "Any of these consequences may lead to providers gaming the system for higher reimbursement  . Another consequence associated with pay for performance is excessive testing, which may not improve quality of care . "