Purpose — There is limited evidence for the effectiveness of pay for performance despite its widespread use. The authors assessed whether the introduction of a pay-for-performance scheme for primary care physicians in Ontario, Canada, was associated with increased cancer screening rates and determined the amounts paid to physicians as part of the program.
Methods — The authors performed a longitudinal analysis using administrative data to determine cancer screening rates and incentive costs in each fiscal year from 1999/2000 to 2009/2010. The authors used a segmented linear regression analysis to assess whether there was a step change or change in screening rate trends after incentives were introduced in 2006/2007. The authors included all Ontarians eligible for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer screening.
Results — The authors found no significant step change in the screening rate for any of the 3 cancers the year after incentives were introduced. Colon cancer screening was increasing at a rate of 3.0% (95% CI, 2.3% to 3.7%) per year before the incentives were introduced and 4.7% (95% CI, 3.7% to 5.7%) per year after. The cervical and breast cancer screening rates did not change significantly from year to year before or after the incentives were introduced. Between 2006/2007 and 2009/2010, $28.3 million, $31.3 million, and $50.0 million were spent on financial incentives for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer screening, respectively.
Conclusions — The pay-for-performance scheme was associated with little or no improvement in screening rates despite substantial expenditure. Policy makers should consider other strategies for improving rates of cancer screening.
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Screening and prevention
Health care costs
Physician incentive plans