Family doctor responses to changes in incentives for influenza immunization under the U.K. Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance scheme

Health Serv Res. 2012 Jun;47(3 Pt 1):1117-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2011.01362.x. Epub 2011 Dec 15.


Objective: To analyze the effect of setting higher targets, in a primary care pay-for-performance scheme, on rates of influenza immunization and exception reporting.

Study setting: The U.K. Quality and Outcomes Framework links financial rewards for family practices to four separate influenza immunization rates for patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and stroke. There is no additional payment for immunization rates above an upper threshold. Patients for whom immunization would be inappropriate can be excepted from the practice for the calculation of the practice immunization rate.

Data: Practice-level information on immunizations and exceptions extracted from electronic records of all practices in England 2004/05 to 2009/10 (n=8,212-8,403).

Study design: Longitudinal random effect multilevel linear regressions comparing changes in practice immunization and exception rates for the four chronic conditions before and after the increase in the upper threshold immunization rate for CHD patients in 2006/07.

Principal findings: The 5 percent increase in the upper payment threshold for CHD was associated with increases in the proportion of immunized CHD patients (0.41 percent, CI: 0.25-0.56 percent), and exception was reported (0.26 percent, CI: 0.12-0.40 percent).

Conclusions: Making quality targets more demanding can not only lead to improvement in quality of care but can also have other consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • England
  • Family Practice / economics*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Selection
  • Physician Incentive Plans / economics
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / economics
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Reimbursement, Incentive*
  • State Medicine / economics
  • Vaccination / economics
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*