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03/13/2017

Does Pay for Performance Improve Care and Lower Spending? A Conversation with Stephen Soumerai (March 15th)

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Over approximately the past decade the health care industry has become increasingly committed to financially incenting physicians and other clinicians, or tying performance to reimbursement.  Commonly termed "pay for performance"(P4P), these arrangements are increasingly employed in the Medicare (i.e., under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA) and Medicaid programs and by commercial insurers, most notable accountable care models and bundled payment arrangements.   One might assume because P4P models are now common there is research evidence that demonstrates they are effective in, again, improving care quality, patient outcomes and lowering spending growth.  That is not the case.  For example, a systematic review published by Cochrane in 2011 found "there is insufficient evidence to support or not support the use of financial incentives to improve the quality of primary health care."  Among other examples, for all the attention the Massachusetts' Alternative Quality Contracts (AQCs) have received since they were launched in 2009, it remains unclear if they have reduced spending or spending growth.   Because P4P models have not proved out, payers and providers, for example, England's National Health Service and in the US the integrated, 12 hospital system, Geisinger Health, have substantially reduced incentive payments or are returning to paying providers straight salaries.            

During this 27 minute conversation, Professor Soumerai discusses his interest in the P4P topic, describes P4p arrangements, summarizes his and others' review of the research evidence relative to the effectiveness of P4P arrangements and suggests model designs that may be more effective.  

Stephen B. Soumerai is Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care SsoumeraiInstitute.  He also co-chairs the Statistics and Evaluative Sciences concentration within Harvard University’s health policy Ph.D. program.  Dr. Soumerai recently served as International Trustee for the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation.  Dr. Soumerai has published more than 250 original scientific articles in leading scientific journal, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.  He is well known nationally and internationally for his work on the impacts of health policies and methods to improve the quality of medical practice.  He frequently advises Congress, state legislatures and federal and international agencies on the design of drug cost containment, coverage and quality-of-care policies, evidence-based health policy and his research has been used extensively to support expanded economic access to medications in Medicaid and Medicare. He is the recipient of numerous honors including numerous article of the year awards from national and international scientific societies, named lectureships, and is the recipient of the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Soumerai's 2015 and 2016 CDC articles noting in this discussion are at: https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/15_0187.htm and https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2016/16_0133.htm

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