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Concept: Incentive


We can regard the wider incentive structures that operate across science, such as the priority given to novel findings, as an ecosystem within which scientists strive to maximise their fitness (i.e., publication record and career success). Here, we develop an optimality model that predicts the most rational research strategy, in terms of the proportion of research effort spent on seeking novel results rather than on confirmatory studies, and the amount of research effort per exploratory study. We show that, for parameter values derived from the scientific literature, researchers acting to maximise their fitness should spend most of their effort seeking novel results and conduct small studies that have only 10%-40% statistical power. As a result, half of the studies they publish will report erroneous conclusions. Current incentive structures are in conflict with maximising the scientific value of research; we suggest ways that the scientific ecosystem could be improved.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Literature, Incentive, Exploratory research


Background Financial incentives promote many health behaviors, but effective ways to deliver health incentives remain uncertain. Methods We randomly assigned CVS Caremark employees and their relatives and friends to one of four incentive programs or to usual care for smoking cessation. Two of the incentive programs targeted individuals, and two targeted groups of six participants. One of the individual-oriented programs and one of the group-oriented programs entailed rewards of approximately $800 for smoking cessation; the others entailed refundable deposits of $150 plus $650 in reward payments for successful participants. Usual care included informational resources and free smoking-cessation aids. Results Overall, 2538 participants were enrolled. Of those assigned to reward-based programs, 90.0% accepted the assignment, as compared with 13.7% of those assigned to deposit-based programs (P<0.001). In intention-to-treat analyses, rates of sustained abstinence from smoking through 6 months were higher with each of the four incentive programs (range, 9.4 to 16.0%) than with usual care (6.0%) (P<0.05 for all comparisons); the superiority of reward-based programs was sustained through 12 months. Group-oriented and individual-oriented programs were associated with similar 6-month abstinence rates (13.7% and 12.1%, respectively; P=0.29). Reward-based programs were associated with higher abstinence rates than deposit-based programs (15.7% vs. 10.2%, P<0.001). However, in instrumental-variable analyses that accounted for differential acceptance, the rate of abstinence at 6 months was 13.2 percentage points (95% confidence interval, 3.1 to 22.8) higher in the deposit-based programs than in the reward-based programs among the estimated 13.7% of the participants who would accept participation in either type of program. Conclusions Reward-based programs were much more commonly accepted than deposit-based programs, leading to higher rates of sustained abstinence from smoking. Group-oriented incentive programs were no more effective than individual-oriented programs. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and CVS Caremark; number, NCT01526265 .).

Concepts: Smoking cessation, Randomness, Motivation, Incentive, Incentive program, Travel incentive, CVS Caremark, Caremark Rx


To examine how hospitals that volunteered to be under financial incentives for more than a decade as part of the Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (early adopters) compared with similar hospitals where these incentives were implemented later under the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program (late adopters).

Concepts: Hospital, Observational study, Incentive



Not all eligible women use the available services under India’s Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), which provides cash incentives to encourage pregnant women to use institutional care for childbirth; limited evidence exists on demand-side factors associated with low program uptake. This study explores the views of women and ASHAs (community health workers) on the use of the JSY and institutional delivery care facilities. In-depth qualitative interviews, carried out in September-November 2013, were completed in the local language by trained interviewers with 112 participants consisting of JSY users/non-users and ASHAs in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The interaction of impeding and enabling factors on the use of institutional care for delivery was explored. We found that ASHAs' support services (e.g., arrangement of transport, escort to and support at healthcare facilities) and awareness generation of the benefits of institutional healthcare emerged as major enabling factors. The JSY cash incentive played a lesser role as an enabling factor because of higher opportunity costs in the use of healthcare facilities versus home for childbirth. Trust in the skills of traditional birth-attendants and the notion of childbirth as a ‘natural event’ that requires no healthcare were the most prevalent impeding factors. The belief that a healthcare facility would be needed only in cases of birth complications was also highly prevalent. This often resulted in waiting until the last moments of childbirth to seek institutional healthcare, leading to delay/non-availability of transportation services and inability to reach a delivery facility in time. ASHAs opined that interpersonal communication for awareness generation has a greater influence on use of institutional healthcare, and complementary cash incentives further encourage use. Improving health workers' support services focused on marginalized populations along with better public healthcare facilities are likely to promote the uptake of institutional delivery care in resource-poor settings.

Concepts: Health care, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Motivation, Incentive, States and territories of India, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh


Uncertainty remains about whether personal financial incentives could achieve sustained changes in health-related behaviors that would reduce the fast-growing global non-communicable disease burden. This review aims to estimate whether: i. financial incentives achieve sustained changes in smoking, eating, alcohol consumption and physical activity; ii. effectiveness is modified by (a) the target behavior, (b) incentive value and attainment certainty, © recipients' deprivation level.

Concepts: Psychology, Alcohol, The Target, Behavior, Motivation, Incentive, Behavioural sciences, Microeconomics


This study tested the combination of an episode payment coupled with actionable use and quality data as an incentive to improve quality and reduce costs.

Concepts: Cancer, Incentive


Financial incentives are seen as one approach to encourage more systematic use of smoking cessation interventions by healthcare professionals. A systematic review was conducted to examine the evidence for this.

Concepts: Smoking cessation, Incentive


Previous studies show that the healthcare industry lags behind many other economic sectors in the adoption of information technology. The purpose of this study is to understand differences in structural characteristics between providers that do and that do not adopt Health Information Technology (HIT) applications. Publicly available secondary data were used from three sources: American Hospital Association (AHA) annual survey, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) analytics annual survey, and Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) databases. Fifty-two information technologies were grouped into three clusters: clinical, administrative, and strategic decision making ITs. Negative binomial regression was applied with adoption of technology as the dependent variables and eight organizational and contextual factors as the independent variables. Hospitals adopt a relatively larger proportion of administrative information technology as compared to clinical and strategic IT. Large size, urban location and HMO penetration were found to be the most influential hospital characteristics that positively affect information technology adoption. There are still considerable variations in the adoption of information technology across hospitals and in the type of technology adopted. Organizational factors appear to be more influential than market factors when it comes to information technology adoption. The future research may examine whether the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program in 2011 would increase the information technology uses in hospitals as it provides financial incentives for HER adoptions and uses among providers.

Concepts: Health care, Health insurance, Adoption, Electronic health record, Health informatics, Incentive, Medical informatics, Information technology


Background Spending and quality under global budgets remain unknown beyond 2 years. We evaluated spending and quality measures during the first 4 years of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Alternative Quality Contract (AQC). Methods We compared spending and quality among enrollees whose physician organizations entered the AQC from 2009 through 2012 with those among persons in control states. We studied spending changes according to year, category of service, site of care, experience managing risk contracts, and price versus utilization. We evaluated process and outcome quality. Results In the 2009 AQC cohort, medical spending on claims grew an average of $62.21 per enrollee per quarter less than it did in the control cohort over the 4-year period (P<0.001). This amount is equivalent to a 6.8% savings when calculated as a proportion of the average post-AQC spending level in the 2009 AQC cohort. Analogously, the 2010, 2011, and 2012 cohorts had average savings of 8.8% (P<0.001), 9.1% (P<0.001), and 5.8% (P=0.04), respectively, by the end of 2012. Claims savings were concentrated in the outpatient-facility setting and in procedures, imaging, and tests, explained by both reduced prices and reduced utilization. Claims savings were exceeded by incentive payments to providers during the period from 2009 through 2011 but exceeded incentive payments in 2012, generating net savings. Improvements in quality among AQC cohorts generally exceeded those seen elsewhere in New England and nationally. Conclusions As compared with similar populations in other states, Massachusetts AQC enrollees had lower spending growth and generally greater quality improvements after 4 years. Although other factors in Massachusetts may have contributed, particularly in the later part of the study period, global budget contracts with quality incentives may encourage changes in practice patterns that help reduce spending and improve quality. (Funded by the Commonwealth Fund and others.).

Concepts: Health care, Massachusetts, Health care in the United States, Incentive, Budget, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Edward Harkness, Commonwealth Fund