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Government payment policies tied to hospital performance fail to improve patient safety

February 07, 2019 / Jeff Lagasse

Value-based incentive programs, or VBIPs, aim to drive improvements in quality and reduce costs by linking financial incentives or penalties to hospital performance. But a new study has found no evidence these programs have any measurable association with changes in catheter-associated urinary tract infection rates in U.S. hospitals. It touts itself as the first study to look at how these federal payment programs impact healthcare-associated infections. In 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services implemented VBIPs to financially reward or penalize hospitals based on quality metrics. These programs targeted hospitals' rates of certain healthcare-associated infections that were deemed preventable.Previous studies demonstrated minimal impact of these payment programs on measures of hospital processes, patient experience and mortality. But their impact on patient safety metrics, including healthcare-associated infection rates, had been unknown.