When it comes to health care, most patients would choose quality over quantity. So, hospitals and medical organizations have decided to try that strategy out. Instead of going to the doctor’s office and paying for each test, visit, and procedure, patients will only pay the doctor when they reach a good outcome. This way, they're able to avoiding running the risk of overtreatment. This “pay-for-performance” structure sounds great in theory, but a new study has found disappointing results when it's applied to real situations involving diagnoses and treatment.

By incentivizing doctors with money for a successful treatment, it’s assumed that they’ll work harder to provide a higher quality of care instead of a bunch of carelessly prescribing medications that might work but will definitely make them money. This practice is supposed to decrease wasteful spending in health care. It's been considered in many reform efforts because it's simple; doctors who meet their goals will be given more money. But so far, there's been mixed results.

As it turns out, financial motivators diminish the quality of creative thinking in doctors, and changing a physician’s approach to patient diagnostic routines and treatments is still extremely difficult. Some doctors, however, are able to acclimate to some changes, such as the ones the American Medical Association studied. They found that care improved when doctors were being payed $200 more per patient for hitting certain performance targets. But although there was a 12 percent improvement in anti-blood clotting advice, there were still 35 percent of patients not receiving correct advice on blood pressure medication.

The British tried this program over a decade ago, and found that even though doctors were promised up to 25 percent more of their income in bonuses if they met certain performance markers, the patient outcomes didn’t change. Way more money than the doctors here in America were being offered was dangled in front of their faces, yet nothing changed. It all goes back to a doctor's reason for originally studying medicine. Financial incentives undermine their desires to help others, so they lose respect for their fields.