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Value-based purchasing (VBP) refers to a broad set of performance-based payment strategies that link financial incentives to health care providers' performance on a set of defined measures in an effort to achieve better value. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is advancing the implementation of VBP across an array of health care settings in the Medicare program in response to requirements in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and policymakers are grappling with many decisions about how best to design and implement VBP programs so that they are successful in achieving stated goals.

This report summarizes the current state of knowledge about VBP based on a review of the published literature, a review of publicly available documentation from VBP programs, and discussions with an expert panel composed of VBP program sponsors, health care providers and health systems, and academic researchers with VBP evaluation expertise. Three types of VBP models were the focus of the review: (1) pay-for-performance programs, (2) accountable care organizations, and (3) bundled payment programs. The authors report on VBP program goals and what constitutes success; the evidence on the impact of these programs; factors that characterize high- and low-performing providers in VBP programs; the measures, incentive structures, and benchmarks used by VBP programs; evidence on spillover effects and unintended consequences; and gaps in the knowledge base.

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