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Ann Fam Med. 2012 May-Jun;10(3):261-3. doi: 10.1370/afm.1334.

Rewarding healthy behaviors--pay patients for performance.

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Northwest Primary Care, 7015 SE 22nd Ave., Portland, OR 97202, USA.


Despite a considerable investment of resources into pay for performance, preliminary studies have found that it may not be significantly more effective in improving health outcome measures when compared with voluntary quality improvement programs. Because patient behaviors ultimately affect health outcomes, I would propose a novel pay-for-performance program that rewards patients directly for achieving evidence-based health goals. These rewards would be in the form of discounts towards co-payments for doctor's visits, procedures, and medications, thereby potentially reducing cost and compliance issues. A pilot study recruiting patients with diabetes or hypertension, diseases with clear and objective outcome measures, would be useful to examine true costs, savings, and health outcomes of such a reward program. Offering incentives to patients for reaching health goals has the potential to foster a stronger partnership between doctors and patients and improve health outcomes.

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