Open Access Research article

A qualitative study of stakeholder views on the effects of provider payment on cooperation, quality of care and cost-containment in integrated stroke care

Johanneke FMM Tummers1, Augustinus JP Schrijvers1 and Johanna MA Visser-Meily2*

Author Affiliations

1 Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

2 Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience and Centre of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine, University Medical Centre Utrecht and Rehabilitation Centre De Hoogstraat, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:127  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-127

Published: 4 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Stroke services are a form of integrated care which have been introduced in many countries, including the Netherlands, to improve health outcomes and processes of care by connecting the acute, rehabilitative, and chronic phases of stroke care. Limited research exists on the effects of payment systems on the functioning of integrated care services from the perspectives of those involved in providing, planning and contracting the care. This qualitative study identified stakeholder views on i) challenges in integrated stroke care associated with fee-for-service systems; ii) other possible financing models for stroke care, and iii) challenges in the implementation of an integrated financing mechanism for stroke care.

Methods

Twenty-four participants were interviewed using face-to-face audio-recorded semi-structured interviews. Respondents were purposively selected from five stakeholder groups; care providers, health care managers, health insurers, experts and patient representatives. Transcribed data were coded and analysed to generate themes relating to the study aims.

Results

Respondents mentioned the following challenges associated with the current fee-for-service system; inappropriate incentives for cooperation, efficiency and improving quality and the inability to exert steering power at the level of the stroke service. In addition, care is not patient-centred and the financing system is inflexible.

The respondents mentioned several solutions for the challenges, but there was no consensus amongst them. Regarding the implementation of integrated financing, respondents mentioned the following general challenges; a) the foundations of the financing system are incompatible with integrated financing, b) co-morbidity and c) the lack of evidence on the effect of integrated financing. Stroke-specific challenges were; a) the diverse patient population, b) a non-uniform care trajectory, c) unclear division of responsibility for the overall care and d) different stages of development among stroke services.

Conclusions

This study provides new knowledge on stakeholder perception of the effect of payment systems and financial incentives on cooperation processes, quality of care and cost-containment in integrated stroke care. The results show that fee-for-service does not provide the right incentives for the integration of stroke care. We recommend to perform financial experiments for integrated stroke care.

Keywords:
Integrated care; Stroke; Payment system; Incentive; Fee-for-service; Cooperation