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Health Aff (Millwood). 2004 Mar-Apr;23(2):127-41.

Paying for quality: providers' incentives for quality improvement.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Paying health care providers to meet quality goals is an idea with widespread appeal, given the common perception that quality of care in the United States remains unacceptably low despite a decade of benchmarking and public reporting. There has been little critical analysis of the design of the current generation of quality incentive programs. In this paper we examine public reports of paying for quality over the past five years and assess each of the identified programs in terms of key design features, including the market share of payers, the structure of the reward system, the amount of revenue at stake, and the targeted domains of health care quality.

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