Does the Frequency of Pay-for-Performance Payment Matter?—Experience from a Randomized Trial

Authors

  • Sukyung Chung,

    1. Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301
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    • Address correspondence to Sukyung Chung, Ph.D., Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301; e-mail: chungs@pamfri.org. Latha Palaniappan, M.D., M.S., and Eric Wong, M.S., are with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA. Haya Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., is with the Research and Evaluation, Palo Alto, CA. Harold S. Luft, Ph.D., is with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, CA.

  • Latha Palaniappan,

    1. Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA
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  • Eric Wong,

    1. Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA
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  • Haya Rubin,

    1. Research and Evaluation, Palo Alto, CA
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  • Harold Luft

    1. Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
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Abstract

Objective. To examine the effects of incentive payment frequency on quality measures in a physician-specific pay-for-performance (P4P) experiment.

Study Setting. A multispecialty physician group practice.

Study Design. In 2007, all primary care physicians (n=179) were randomized into two study arms differing by the frequency of incentive payment, either four quarterly bonus checks or a single year-end bonus (maximum of U.S.$5,000/year for both arms).

Data Collection/Extraction Methods. Data were extracted from electronic health records. Quality measure scores between the two arms over four quarters were compared.

Principal Findings. There was no difference between the two arms in average quality measure score or in total bonus amount earned.

Conclusions. Physicians' responses to a P4P program with a small maximum bonus do not differ by frequency of bonus payment.

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