Payment incentives for community-based psychiatric care in Ontario, Canada

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In September 2011, the government of Ontario implemented payment incentives to encourage the delivery of community-based psychiatric care to patients after discharge from a psychiatric hospital admission and to those with a recent suicide attempt. We evaluated whether these incentives affected supply of psychiatric services and access to care.


We used administrative data to capture monthly observations for all psychiatrists who practised in Ontario between September 2009 and August 2014. We conducted interrupted time-series analyses of psychiatrist-level and patient-level data to evaluate whether the incentives affected the quantity of eligible outpatient services delivered and the likelihood of receiving follow-up care.


Among 1921 psychiatrists evaluated, implementation of the incentive payments was not associated with increased provision of follow-up visits after discharge from a psychiatric hospital admission (mean change in visits per month per psychiatrist 0.0099, 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.0989 to 0.1206; change in trend 0.0032, 95% CI −0.0035 to 0.0095) or after a suicide attempt (mean change −0.0910, 95% CI −0.1885 to 0.0026; change in trend 0.0102, 95% CI 0.0045 to 0.0159). There was also no change in the probability that patients received follow-up care after discharge (change in level −0.0079, 95% CI −0.0223 to 0.0061; change in trend 0.0007, 95% CI −0.0003 to 0.0016) or after a suicide attempt (change in level 0.0074, 95% CI −0.0094 to 0.0366; change in trend 0.0006, 95% CI −0.0007 to 0.0022).


Our results suggest that implementation of the incentives did not increase access to follow-up care for patients after discharge from a psychiatric hospital admission or after a suicide attempt, and the incentives had no effect on supply of psychiatric services. Further research to guide design and implementation of more effective incentives is warranted.

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