Study Finds Majority of Providers Unaware of Performance Incentives

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Providers fail to notice three-quarters of all performance incentives and end up losing an estimated $20 billion annually, according to findings from a recent ZS Associates study.

ZS Associates, a business and marketing consulting firm, surveyed more than 4,500 healthcare providers and payors to find out how they use pay-for-performance incentives. The report concluded that incentives neither affect behavior nor help healthcare organizations meet quality and cost-saving goals.

Three-quarters of physicians and nurses surveyed who could benefit from pay-for-performance were unaware of rewards or unable to distinguish those bonus payouts from their base pay. And one-third of care providers surveyed said they did not find the incentives motivating enough to spur participation.

"Incentives have proven to be effective in many other settings," said lead author of the study, Angela Bakker Lee. "But they have not been executed in a way that can help change provider behavior in healthcare."

The report suggests several issues payors and providers should address in order to make incentives more stimulating and useful for care providers. The first is to involve medical professionals when designing the incentive packages. The second is to reward individual practitioners for improvements they make rather than solely incentivizing healthcare organizations. Another way to improve performance incentives cited by the study is to better explain and promote them.

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