Objective: To examine associations between physician reimbursement incentives and diabetes care processes and explore potential confounding with physician organizational model.
Data sources: Primary data collected during 2000-2001 in 10 managed care plans.
Study design: Multilevel logistic regressions were used to estimate associations between reimbursement incentives and process measures, including the receipt of dilated eye exams, foot exams, influenza immunizations, advice to take aspirin, and assessments of glycemic control, proteinuria, and lipid profile. Reimbursement measures included the proportions of compensation received from salary, capitation, fee-for-service (FFS), and performance-based payment; the performance-based payment criteria used; and interactions of these criteria with the strength of the performance-based payment incentive.
Data collection: Patient, provider group, and health plan surveys and medical record reviews were conducted for 6,194 patients with diabetes.
Principal findings: Without controlling for physician organizational model, care processes were better when physician compensation was based primarily on direct salary rather than FFS reimbursement (four of seven processes were better, with relative risks ranging from 1.13 to 1.23) or capitation (six were better, with relative risks from 1.06 to 1.36); and when quality/satisfaction scores influenced physician compensation (three were better, with relative risks from 1.17 to 1.26). However, these associations were substantially confounded by organizational model.
Conclusions: Physician reimbursement strategies are associated with diabetes care processes, although their independent contributions are difficult to assess, due to high correlation with physician organizational model. Regardless of causality, a group's use of quality/satisfaction scores to determine physician compensation may indicate delivery of high-quality diabetes care.