A program offering financial incentives to hospitals did improve outcomes for heart attack patients, but those outcomes werent significantly better than for patients at hospitals that did not participate in the program, according to a study in todays issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., studied whether some of the hospitals participating in a CMS pilot project launched in 2003 showed more improvement in certain process measures and outcomes for treatment of heart attack than hospitals not in the program. The study analyzed data for 105,383 patients treated between July 2003 and June 2006 at 54 hospitals in the CMS program and 446 control hospitals. The researchers found significant improvement at both pay-for-performance and control hospitals with no significant difference in the rate of improvement between the two hospital groups.
The researchers concluded that although they did not find significantly stronger improvement in hospitals participating in the voluntary pay-for-performance program, they also did not find evidence that pay-for-performance had an adverse impact on processes that were not subject to financial incentives. The researchers also noted that the study is one of the first to evaluate the CMS pay-for-performance pilot, and additional studies are needed to determine the optimal role of pay-for-performance initiatives. -- by Cinda Becker