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Primary care payment models and avoidable hospitalizations in Ontario, Canada: a multivalued treatment effects analysis


Improving access to primary care physicians’ services may help reduce hospitalizations due to Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions (ACSCs). Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, introduced blended payment models for primary care physicians in the early- to mid-2000s to increase access to primary care, preventive care, and better chronic disease management. We study the impact of payment models on avoidable hospitalizations due to two incentivized ACSCs (diabetes and congestive heart failure) and two non-incentivized ACSCs (angina and asthma). The data for our study came from health administrative data on practicing primary care physicians in Ontario between 2006 and 2015. We employ a two-stage estimation strategy on a balanced panel of 3710 primary care physicians (1158 blended-fee-for-service (FFS), 1388 blended-capitation models, and 1164 interprofessional team-based practices). First, we account for the differences in physician practices using a generalized propensity score based on a multinomial logit regression model, corresponding to three primary care payment models. Second, we use fractional regression models to estimate the average treatment effects on the treated outcome (i.e., avoidable hospitalizations). The capitation-based model sometimes increases avoidable hospitalizations due to angina (by 7 per 100,000 patients) and congestive heart failure (40 per 100,000) relative to the blended-FFS-based model. Switching capitation physicians into interprofessional teams mitigates this effect, reducing avoidable hospitalizations from congestive heart failure by 30 per 100,000 patients and suggesting better access to primary care and chronic disease management in team-based practices.



Somé NH, Devlin RA, Mehta N, Sarma S. Health Econ. 2024; Jun 19 [Epub ahead of print].

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