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      Pay-for-Performance Programs in Family Practices in the United Kingdom

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          Abstract

          In 2004, after a series of national initiatives associated with marked improvements in the quality of care, the National Health Service of the United Kingdom introduced a pay-for-performance contract for family practitioners. This contract increases existing income according to performance with respect to 146 quality indicators covering clinical care for 10 chronic diseases, organization of care, and patient experience. We analyzed data extracted automatically from clinical computing systems for 8105 family practices in England in the first year of the pay-for-performance program (April 2004 through March 2005), data from the U.K. Census, and data on characteristics of individual family practices. We examined the proportion of patients deemed eligible for a clinical quality indicator for whom the indicator was met (reported achievement) and the proportion of the total number of patients with a medical condition for whom a quality indicator was met (population achievement), and we used multiple regression analysis to determine the extent to which practices achieved high scores by classifying patients as ineligible for quality indicators (exception reporting). The median reported achievement in the first year of the new contract was 83.4 percent (interquartile range, 78.2 to 87.0 percent). Sociodemographic characteristics of the patients (age and socioeconomic features) and practices (size of practice, number of patients per practitioner, age of practitioner, and whether the practitioner was medically educated in the United Kingdom) had moderate but significant effects on performance. Exception reporting by practices was not extensive (median rate, 6 percent), but it was the strongest predictor of achievement: a 1 percent increase in the rate of exception reporting was associated with a 0.31 percent increase in reported achievement. Exception reporting was high in a small number of practices: 1 percent of practices excluded more than 15 percent of patients. English family practices attained high levels of achievement in the first year of the new pay-for-performance contract. A small number of practices appear to have achieved high scores by excluding large numbers of patients by exception reporting. More research is needed to determine whether these practices are excluding patients for sound clinical reasons or in order to increase income. Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Systematic review of studies of quality of clinical care in general practice in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

          Little is known about the quality of clinical care provided outside the hospital sector, despite the increasingly important role of clinical generalists working in primary care. In this study we aimed to summarise published evaluations of the quality of clinical care provided in general practice in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. A systematic review of published studies assessing the quality of clinical care in general practice for the period 1995-9. General practice based care in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Main outcome measures-Study design, sampling strategy and size, clinical conditions studied, quality of care attained for each condition (compared with explicit or implicit standards for the process of care), and country of origin for each study. Ninety papers fulfilled the entry criteria for the review, 80 from the UK, six from Australia, and four from New Zealand. Two thirds of the studies assessed care in self-selected practices and 20% of the studies were based in single practices. The majority (85.5%) examined the quality of care provided for chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease (22%), hypertension (14%), diabetes (14%), and asthma (13%). A further 12% and 2% examined preventive care and acute conditions, respectively. In almost all studies the processes of care did not attain the standards set out in national guidelines or those set by the researchers themselves. For example, in the highest achieving practices 49% of diabetic patients had had their fundii examined in the previous year and 47% of eligible patients had been prescribed beta blockers after an acute myocardial infarction. This study adopts an overview of the magnitude and the nature of clinical quality problems in general practice in three countries. Most of the studies in the systematic review come from the UK and the small number of papers from Australia and New Zealand make it more difficult to draw conclusions about the quality of care in these two countries. The review helps to identify deficiencies in the research, clinical and policy agendas in a part of the health care system where quality of care has been largely ignored to date. Further work is required to evaluate the quality of clinical care in a representative sample of the population, to identify the reasons for substandard care, and to test strategies to improve the clinical care provided in general practice.
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            How Good Is the Quality of Health Care in the United States?

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              Cervical screening and health inequality in England in the 1990s.

              s: To examine changing inequality in the coverage of cervical screening and its relation to organisational aspects of primary care and to inequality in cervical cancer incidence and mortality. Retrospective time trends analysis (1991-2001) of screening coverage and cervical cancer incidence and mortality in England. The 99 district health authorities in England, as defined by 1999 boundaries were used to create a time series of incidence and mortality rates from cervical cancer per 100 000 population. A subset of 60 district health authorities were used to construct a time series of screening coverage data and GP and practice characteristics. Health authorities were categorised into one of three "deprivation" groups using the Townsend Deprivation Index. Women aged <35 and 35-64 were selected from health authority populations as the main focus of the study. Cervical cancer screening coverage was consistently higher in affluent areas from 1991-9 but ratio rates of inequality between affluent and deprived health authorities narrowed over time. The increase in coverage in deprived areas was most closely associated with an increase in the number of practice nurses. Cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates were consistently higher in deprived health authorities, but inequality decreased. Screening coverage and cervical cancer rates were highly negatively correlated in deprived health authorities. A primary health care intervention such as an organised programme of cervical screening can contribute to reducing inequality in population health.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                July 27 2006
                July 27 2006
                : 355
                : 4
                : 375-384
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMsa055505
                16870916
                © 2006
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