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Study Finds Only Slight Increase in Quality-Based Doc Payments

By CQ Staff

January 4, 2007 -- Physician compensation based on quality measures has increased slightly, but incentives tied to productivity remain the top form of reimbursement, according to a study released Thursday by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The study, which based its findings on the group's Community Tracking Study Physician Survey, examined data from 1996 to 2005. According to the findings, compensation based on quality measures increased from 17.6 percent of physicians in 2000–2001 to 20.2 percent in 2004–2005. In a statement, HSC called the increase "small but statistically significant." However, the survey found that reimbursement tied to physician productivity has consistently ranked as a common incentive for 70 percent of physicians in a non-solo practice since 1996–1997.

The study's authors conclude that until policy makers make changes to complement current pay-for-performance efforts, physicians will continue to be reimbursed by the fee-for-service model, "an incentive that has uncertain implications for quality of care but which likely increases the cost of care by encouraging the provision of more services to patients."

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