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Br J Gen Pract. 2013 Jun;63(611):e408-15. doi: 10.3399/bjgp13X668203.

Implementation of pay for performance in primary care: a qualitative study 8 years after introduction.

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  • 1School of Health and Population Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pay for performance is now a widely adopted quality improvement initiative in health care. One of the largest schemes in primary care internationally is the English Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).

AIM:

To obtain a longer term perspective on the implementation of the QOF.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Qualitative study with 47 health professionals in 23 practices across England. Method Semi-structured interviews.

RESULTS:

Pay for performance is accepted as a routine part of primary care in England, with previous more individualistic and less structured ways of working seen as poor practice. The size of the QOF and the evidence-based nature of the indicators are regarded as key to its success. However, pay for performance may have had a negative impact on some aspects of medical professionalism, such as clinical autonomy, and led a significant minority of GPs to prioritise their own pay rather than patients' best interests. A small minority of GPs tried to increase their clinical autonomy with further unintended consequences.

CONCLUSION:

Pay for performance indicators are now welcomed by primary healthcare teams and GPs across generations. Almost all interviewees wanted to see a greater emphasis on involving front line practice teams in developing indicators. However, almost all GPs and practice managers described a sense of decreased clinical autonomy and loss of professionalism. Calibrating the appropriate level of clinical autonomy is critical if pay for performance schemes are to have maximal impact on patient care.

PMID:
23735412
PMCID:
PMC3662458
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp13X668203
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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