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Doctor Behaviour Under a Pay for Performance Contract: Evidence from the Quality and Outcomes Framework

  • Hugh Gravelle

    (National Primary Care Research & Development Centre, Centre for Health Economics, University of York)

  • Matt Sutton

    (Health Economics Research Unit, University of Aberdeen)

  • Ada Ma

    (Health Economics Research Unit, University of Aberdeen)

Since 2003, 25% of UK general practitioners’ income has been determined by the quality of their care. The 65 clinical quality indicators in this scheme (the Quality and Outcomes Framework) are in the form of ratios, with financial reward increasing linearly with the ratio between a lower and upper threshold. The numerator is the number of patients for whom an indicator is achieved and the denominator is the number of patients the practices declares are suitable for the indicator. The number declared suitable is the number of patients with the relevant condition less the number exception reported by the practice for a specified range of reasons. Exception reporting is designed to avoid harmful treatment resulting from the application of quality targets to patients for whom they were not intended. However, exception reporting also gives GPs the opportunity to exclude patients who should in fact be treated in order to achieve higher financial rewards. This is inappropriate use of exception reporting or ‘gaming’. Practices can also increase income if they are below the upper threshold by reducing the number of patients declared with a condition (prevalence), or by increasing reported prevalence if they were above the upper threshold. This study examines the factors affecting delivered quality (the proportion of prevalent patients for indicators were achieved) and tests for gaming of exceptions and for prevalence reporting being responsive to financial incentives.

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Paper provided by Centre for Health Economics, University of York in its series Working Papers with number 028cherp.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chy:respap:28cherp
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  1. Morris, Stephen & Sutton, Matthew & Gravelle, Hugh, 2005. "Inequity and inequality in the use of health care in England: an empirical investigation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1251-1266, March.
  2. Mark Dusheiko & Hugh Gravelle & Rowena Jacobs & Peter Smith, 2003. "The Effects of Budgets on Doctors Behaviour: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/064, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2000. "Chapter 34 Equity in health care finance and delivery," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 34, pages 1803-1862 Elsevier.
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