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Association of a heart failure management incentive in primary care with clinical outcomes: a retrospective cohort study


Background — We aim to examine the association between primary care physicians’ billing of Q050A, a pay‐for‐performance heart failure (HF) management incentive fee code, and the composite outcome of mortality, hospitalization, and emergency department visits.

Methods and Results — This population‐based cohort study linked administrative health databases in Ontario, Canada, for patients with HF aged >66 years between January 1, 2008, and March 31, 2020. Cases were patients with HF who had a Q050A fee code billed. Cases and controls were matched 1:1 on age, sex, patient status on being rostered to a primary care physician, cardiologist, or internist visit in the 6 months before study enrollment, Johns Hopkins Adjusted Clinical Group resource use bands, days between HF diagnosis and study enrollment (±2 years), and the logit of the propensity score. A Cox proportional hazards model assessed the association of Q050A with the outcome. A total of 59 664 cases had a Q050A billed, whereas 244 883 patients did not. Before matching, patients who had a Q050A billed were more likely to be men (52% versus 49%), were rostered to a primary care physician (100% versus 96%), had a higher Charlson Comorbidity Index, and had higher health care costs. The mean follow‐up was 481 days for cases and 530 days for controls. The composite outcome (hazard ratio, 1.11 [95% CI, 1.09–1.12]) was significantly higher for cases than controls.

Conclusions — The Q050A incentive improved financial compensation for primary care physicians managing patients with HF but was not associated with improvements in the outcome. Research on promoting evidence‐based HF management is warranted.



Benipal H, Demers C, Cerasuolo JO, Perez R, You JJ, Amin F, Keshavjee K, Lee DS. J Am Heart Assoc. 2024; 13(1):e031498. Epub 2023 Dec 29.

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