Effect of Financial Incentives to Physicians, Patients, or Both on Lipid Levels
A Randomized Clinical Trial was conducted to determine whether physician financial incentives, patient incentives, or shared physician and patient incentives are more effective than control in reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) among patients with high cardiovascular risk.
Primary care physicians were randomly assigned to control, physician incentives, patient incentives, or shared physician-patient incentives. Physicians in the physician incentives group were eligible to receive up to $1024 per enrolled patient meeting LDL-C goals. Patients in the patient incentives group were eligible for the same amount, distributed through daily lotteries tied to medication adherence. Physicians and patients in the shared incentives group shared these incentives. Physicians and patients in the control group received no incentives tied to outcomes, but all patient participants received up to $355 each for trial participation.
Patients in the shared physician-patient incentives group achieved a mean reduction in LDL-C of 33.6 mg/dL (95% CI, 30.1-37.1; baseline, 160.1 mg/dL; 12 months, 126.4 mg/dL); those in physician incentives achieved a mean reduction of 27.9 mg/dL (95% CI, 24.9-31.0; baseline, 159.9 mg/dL; 12 months, 132.0 mg/dL); those in patient incentives achieved a mean reduction of 25.1 mg/dL (95% CI, 21.6-28.5; baseline, 160.6 mg/dL; 12 months, 135.5 mg/dL); and those in the control group achieved a mean reduction of 25.1 mg/dL (95% CI, 21.7-28.5; baseline, 161.5 mg/dL; 12 months, 136.4 mg/dL; P < .001 for comparison of all 4 groups). Only patients in the shared physician-patient incentives group achieved reductions in LDL-C levels statistically different from those in the control group (8.5 mg/dL; 95% CI, 3.8-13.3; P = .002).
Conclusions and Relevance In primary care practices, shared financial incentives for physicians and patients, but not incentives to physicians or patients alone, resulted in a statistically significant difference in reduction of LDL-C levels at 12 months.