The Integrated Healthcare Association says a “pay for performance” system in California seems to be having a noticeable effect on the quality of patient care.[@@]

The Walnut Creek, Calif., association has attracted 7 managed care companies that run health maintenance organizations with a total of 6.2 million members. The companies have agreed to base a portion of the compensation of 35,000 participating HMO network doctors on the doctors’ performance ratings.

Rating benchmarks include indicators for care for diabetes, asthma and other conditions and patient groups.

Doctors recorded big improvements in quality indicators for diabetes screening and asthma care for children ages 5 to 9 between 2003 and 2004, and improvement in another indicator, for cervical cancer screening, was especially dramatic, according to the Integrated Healthcare Association.

The percentage of women treated by participating doctors who received cervical cancer screening rose to 67.5%, from 62.4%, and that increase means that 117,000 additional women received that potentially lifesaving screening test in California in 2004, the association says.

The association also found that 119 of the participating physician group practices met the association’s information technology standards in 2004, up from 74 in 2003.