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HealthPartners/Hazelden study: pay-for-performance can improve quality of care for alcohol and drug treatment

October 26, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – A study published in the October issue of the Journal of Hospital Administration shows that pay-for-performance programs, which have been effective in improving care for diabetes, asthma and other conditions, can also help improve treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. These programs – also called P4P - reward providers for improving care.

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and HealthPartners measured whether P4P programs could improve care for drug and alcohol addiction. The measures included seven areas of care. Then, HealthPartners gave financial rewards for meeting the goals. They included:

  • How satisfied patients are
  • How many people attended 12-step meetings
  • How many patients needed more treatment

In the first year, providers met two of the goals. In the second year, they met all seven goals. As a result, patients had:

  • Better health. The number of patients who said treatment helped increased from 42 to 48 percent.
  • Increased use of aftercare. The number of patients who attended at least three 12-step meetings each week grew from 41 to 42 percent.
  • Increased satisfaction. The number of patients who rated the care they received as ‘excellent’ rose from 66 to 72 percent.
  • Fewer readmissions. The number of patients who were readmitted within one year dropped from 6.7 to 6.5 percent.

HealthPartners was one of the first in the nation to use P4P programs. It has improved care in several areas. For example people with diabetes suffer fewer heart attacks, leg amputations and eye problems.

P4P has also helped increase generic drug use. In 2002, generic drugs accounted for just 45 percent of prescriptions. In 2015, 90 percent of prescriptions were generic.

About HealthPartners

HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit

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