The rising burden of chronic conditions has led several European countries to reform healthcare payment schemes. This paper aimed to explore the adoption and success of payment schemes that promote integration of chronic care in European countries. A literature review was used to identify European countries that employed pay-for-coordination (PFC), pay-for-performance (PFP), and bundled payment schemes. Existing evidence from the literature was supplemented with fifteen interviews with chronic care experts in these countries to obtain detailed information regarding the payment schemes, facilitators and barriers to their implementation, and their perceived success. Austria, France, England, the Netherlands, and Germany have implemented payment schemes that were specifically designed to promote the integration of chronic care. Prominent factors facilitating implementation included stakeholder cooperation, adequate financial incentives for stakeholders, and flexible task allocation among different care provider disciplines. Common barriers to implementation included misaligned incentives across stakeholders and gaming. The implemented payment schemes targeted different stakeholders (e.g. individual caregivers, multidisciplinary organizations of caregivers, regions, insurers) in different countries depending on the structure and financing of each health care system. All payment reforms appeared to have changed the structure of chronic care delivery. PFC, as it was implemented in Austria, France and Germany, was perceived to be the most successful in increasing collaboration within and across healthcare sectors, whereas PFP, as it was implemented in England and France, was perceived most successful in improving other indicators of the quality of the care process. Interviewees stated that the impact of the payment reforms on healthcare expenditures remained questionable. The success of a payment scheme depends on the details of the specific implementation in a particular country, but a combination of the schemes may overcome the barriers of each individual scheme.
Keywords: Chronic disease; Financial incentives; Integrated care; Payment schemes.
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