Objectives: We investigate the impact on quality of care of the introduction of two financial incentives in primary care contracts in the Italian region Emilia Romagna: pay-for-participation and pay-for-compliance with best practices programs.
Methods: We concentrate on patients affected by diabetes mellitus type 2, for which the assumption of responsibility and the adoption of clinical guidelines are specifically rewarded. We test the hypothesis that, other things equal, patients under the responsibility of general practitioners (GPs) receiving a higher share of their income through these programs are less likely to experience hospitalisation for hyperglycaemic emergencies. To this end, we examine the combined influence of physician, organisational and patient factors by means of multilevel modelling for the year 2003.
Results: Programs aimed at stimulating GP assumption of responsibility in disease management significantly reduce the probability of hyperglycaemic emergencies for their patients.
Conclusions: Although it has been recognised that incentive-based remuneration schemes can have an impact on GP behaviour, there is still weak empirical evidence on the extent to which such programs influence healthcare outcomes. Our results support the hypothesis that financial transfers may contribute to improve quality of care, even when they are not based on the ex-post verification of performances.