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Effect of a national primary care pay for performance scheme on emergency hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions: controlled longitudinal study

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Publication details

JournalBritish medical journal
DatePublished - 11 Nov 2014
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


Objective: To estimate the impact of a national primary care pay for performance scheme, the Quality and Outcomes Framework in England, on emergency hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs).
Design: Controlled longitudinal study.
Setting: English National Health Service between 1998/99 and 2010/11.
Participants: Populations registered with each of 6975 family practices in England.
Main outcome measures: Year specific differences between trend adjusted emergency hospital admission rates for incentivised ACSCs before and after the introduction of the Quality and Outcomes Framework scheme and two comparators: non-incentivised ACSCs and non-ACSCs.
Results: Incentivised ACSC admissions showed a relative reduction of 2.7% (95% confidence interval 1.6% to 3.8%) in the first year of the Quality and Outcomes Framework compared with ACSCs that were not incentivised. This increased to a relative reduction of 8.0% (6.9% to 9.1%) in 2010/11. Compared with conditions that are not regarded as being influenced by the quality of ambulatory care (non-ACSCs), incentivised ACSCs also showed a relative reduction in rates of emergency admissions of 2.8% (2.0% to 3.6%) in the first year increasing to 10.9% (10.1% to 11.7%) by 2010/11.
Conclusions: The introduction of a major national pay for performance scheme for primary care in England was associated with a decrease in emergency admissions for incentivised conditions compared with conditions that were not incentivised. Contemporaneous health service changes seem unlikely to have caused the sharp change in the trajectory of incentivised ACSC admissions immediately after the introduction of the Quality and Outcomes Framework. The decrease seems larger than would be expected from the changes in the process measures that were incentivised, suggesting that the pay for performance scheme may have had impacts on quality of care beyond the directly incentivised activities.

Bibliographical note

© Harrison et al 2014.

    Research areas

  • Ambulatory Care, England, Hospitalization, Longitudinal Studies, Outcome Assessment (Health Care), Primary Health Care, Quality of Health Care, Reimbursement, Incentive

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