Paying for Performance Improvement in Quality and Outcomes of Cardiovascular Care: Challenges and Prospects

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Over the past two decades, Medicare and other payers have been looking at ways to base payment for cardiovascular care on the quality and outcomes of care delivered. Public reporting of hospital performance on a series of quality measures began in 2004 with basic processes of care such as aspirin use and influenza vaccination, and it expanded in later years to include outcomes such as mortality and readmission rates. Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, Medicare and other payers moved forward with pay-for-performance programs, more commonly referred to as value-based purchasing (VBP) programs. These programs are largely based on an underlying fee-for-service payment infrastructure and give hospitals and clinicians bonuses or penalties based on their performance. Another new payment mechanism, called alternative payment models (APMs), aims to move towards episode-based or global payments to improve quality and efficiency. The two most relevant APMs for cardiovascular care include Accountable Care Organizations and bundled payments. Both VBP programs and APMs have challenges related to program efficacy, accuracy, and equity. In fact, despite over a decade of progress in measuring and incentivizing high-quality care delivery within cardiology, major limitations remain. Many of the programs have had little benefit in terms of clinical outcomes yet have led to marked administrative burden for participants. However, there are several encouraging prospects to aid the successful implementation of value-based high-quality cardiovascular care, such as more sophisticated data science to improve risk adjustment and flexible electronic health records to decrease administrative burden. Furthermore, payment models designed specifically for cardiovascular care could incentivize innovative care delivery models that could improve quality and outcomes for patients. This review provides an overview of current efforts, largely at the federal level, to pay for high-quality cardiovascular care and discusses the challenges and prospects related to doing so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalMethodist DeBakey cardiovascular journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • alternative payment models
  • cardiovascular care
  • pay for performance
  • value-based purchasing


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