Financial Incentives, Quality Improvement Programs, and the Adoption of Clinical Information Technology

Integration of information technology into health care services is taking place more rapidly in medical groups than independent practice associations (IPAs). For medical groups, adoption of the full range of information technology capabilities is proportional to organizational size.

Two types of incentives influence adoption of clinical information technology (CIT). Direct external incentives provide financial compensation when organizations acquire specific capabilities. Indirect incentives reward achievement based on quality scores designed to reflect an organization's technological status. 

The analysis in this report is based on data from the National Study of Physician Organizations (NSPO). Detailed tabulations document the prevalence of various technologies for over 500 medical groups and IPAs. The authors examine the internal and external forces that determine whether a given organization will integrate new technologies. Medical directors participated in a 35-minute structured survey. Researchers created a scaled index to account for up to 19 separate electronic capabilities. 

Key Findings:

  • Evaluations that focus on information technology are the most effective stimulus for adoption of CIT.
  • Organizations that rank high on the patient-centeredness index are more likely to adopt technological capabilities.

The findings of this article do not apply to physicians who practice alone or in small groups.