Performance-Based Financial Incentives for Diabetes Care: An Effective Strategy?

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The use of financial incentives provided to primary care physicians who achieve target management or clinical outcomes has been advocated to support the fulfillment of care recommendations for patients with diabetes. This article explores the characteristics of incentive models implemented in the context of universal healthcare systems in the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan and Canada; the extent to which these interventions have been successful in improving diabetes outcomes; and the key challenges and concerns around implementing incentive models. Research in the effect of incentives in the United Kingdom demonstrates some improvements in process outcomes and achievement of cholesterol, blood pressure and glycated hemoglobin (A1C) targets. Evidence of the efficacy of programs implemented outside of the United Kingdom is very limited but suggests that physicians participating in these enhanced billing incentive programs were already completing the guideline-recommended care prior to the introduction of the incentive. A shift to a pay-for-performance programs may have important implications for professionalism and patient-centred care. In the absence of definitive evidence that financial incentives drive the quality of diabetes management at the level of primary care, policy makers should proceed with caution. It is important to look beyond simply modifying physicians' behaviours and address the factors and systemic barriers that make it challenging for patients and physicians to manage diabetes in partnership.




Latham, L. P., & Marshall, E. G. (2015, February 1). Performance-Based Financial Incentives for Diabetes Care: An Effective Strategy? Canadian Journal of Diabetes. Elsevier.

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