Incentivising Quality

A key objective for financially-constrained health care systems is to extract better value from the budgets available, by encouraging the delivery of high-quality health care at the lowest feasible cost. There has been longstanding interest in understanding the role of incentives in achieving this objective. OHE’s Incentivising Quality research theme is concerned with the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that incentivise actors in health care markets, and how these create certain behaviours and outcomes. Economic thinking and analysis in this area can help us understand how health care policies should be optimally designed.

Health care improvements matter if they contribute to maximising productivity (the ratio of outputs to inputs), while also addressing dimensions of societal value such as patient access and quality. The Incentivising Quality theme also includes research on appropriate measures of productivity in the health care sector and the trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness.

OHE has also undertaken relevant work on topics such as: the funding of health care; the roles of the public, private and charitable sectors; and the interplay of market-like arrangements and health care service institutions.

Key objective for this research theme:

  • Understanding how well-designed incentives, payments and reimbursement mechanisms can influence quality, behaviours and performance

OHE’s policy positions:

  • The design and use of health care payment mechanisms should take account of the incentives and behaviours that will result.
  • Health care systems should incentivise the use of evidence-based, cost-effective interventions.



Zamora, B., Cookson, G. and Garau, M.

Consulting Report
September 2019

The Office of Health Economics

November 2018

Chalkley, M and Sussex, J.

September 2018

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