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J Clin Anesth. 2004 Nov;16(7):523-8.

Improving anesthesiologist performance through profiling and incentives.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA.



To determine the influence of profiling and incentives on anesthesiologist behavior in relation to several key indicators of performance.


Prospective collection and analysis of operational data before and after implementation of a physician profiling, reporting, and incentive program.


University hospital.


An intervention consisting of two components was studied with the intent of stimulating a high level of performance in relation to a peer group. The first component, a monthly report of physician performance via an individualized performance report, was provided to each physician for each of 6 months. The second component consisted of a financial incentive. For each month in the study, physicians were eligible to receive a variable financial incentive of between $0 and $500 per month depending on individual performance based scoring in relation to each other. Physician performance was tracked in five areas: 1) percentage of first cases of the day in the room at or before the scheduled in-room time, 2) percentage of cases with an anesthesia prep time less than a target, 3) percentage of cases delayed due to waiting for an anesthesiology patient evaluation, 4) percentage of cases delayed during the anesthesiology controlled time, and, 5) percentage of cases delayed due to waiting for the anesthesiology attending. Results were reported to each physician on a monthly basis, by e-mail distribution, of an individualized perioperative efficiency summary report. A monthly financial incentive was awarded to the top performing physicians in the form of a credit to the physician's personal CME/expense account. Also, all physicians received a rank order list of their performance on each indicator at the end of each month.


31 anesthesiologists, comprising the multispecialty division, and covering all services with the exception of obstetrics, pediatrics, and cardiothoracic anesthesia were tracked for 6 months. Compared to the first month, the percent of first cases of the day in the room at or before the scheduled start time and the percent of cases with an anesthesiology prep time less than target increased significantly (19 +/- 4.6%, vs. 61 +/- 6.5%, 95% CI, p <0.001; and 57 +/- 5.3%, vs. 73 +/- 5.1%, 95% CI, p <0 .001) during the sixth month. The mean number of cases per physician with a delay during anesthesiology controlled time decreased (14.9 +/- 2.9 vs. 3.3 +/- 1, p <0.001), no change occurred in the number of cases with a delay due to waiting for an anesthesiology patient evaluation or number of cases delayed due to waiting for the anesthesiology attending in the sixth month compared with the first month.


Tracking and rewarding physician performance with monthly profiling and a financial incentive given to the best in a peer group improves anesthesiologist performance in several key areas.

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