Pay for performance in health care: an international overview of initiatives

Med Care Res Rev. 2012 Jun;69(3):251-76. doi: 10.1177/1077558711432891. Epub 2012 Feb 6.


Pay for performance (P4P) has become a popular approach to performance improvement in health care. Most of the P4P literature has focused on the United States and there is limited insight in the characteristics of major programs initiated in other countries. This article systematically describes and reviews P4P programs outside the United States. Our literature search identified 13 programs initiated in 9 countries. Although the programs share many similarities, they differ in several important respects, also when compared with the typical P4P program in the United States. In addition, there are clearly possibilities to increase incentive strength and minimize incentives for undesired behavior. In part, observed heterogeneity will be a consequence of contextual differences, but design choices often also seem to be made arbitrarily. In designing their programs, purchasers are hampered by limited knowledge of the influence of specific design choices and effective strategies to mitigate undesired behavior.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Australasia
  • Canada
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Middle East
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Reimbursement, Incentive / economics*
  • South America
  • United States