Inciting maintenance: Tiered institutional work during value-based payment reform in oncology

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Value-based payment aims to shift the focus from traditional volume-driven arrangements to a system that rewards providers for the quality and value of care delivered. Previous research has shown that it is difficult for providers to change their medical and organizational practices to adopt value-based payment, but the role of actors in these reforms has remained underexposed. This paper unravels the motives of non-clinical and clinical professionals to maintain institutionalized payment practices when faced with value-based payment. To illuminate these motives, a case study was conducted in a Dutch hospital alliance that aimed to implement value-based payment to incentivize the transition to novel interventions in a prostate cancer care pathway. Data collection consisted of observations and interviews with actors on multiple levels in the hospital (sales departments, medical specialist enterprises (MSEs) and physicians). On each actor level, motives for maintaining currently prevailing institutional practices were present. Regulative maintenance motives were more common for sales managers whereas cultural-cognitive and normative motives seemed to play an important role for physicians. An overarching motive was that desired transitions to novel interventions proved possible under the currently prevailing institutional logic, dismissing an urgent need for payment reform. Our analysis further revealed that actors engage in diverse institutional maintenance work, and that some actor groups’ institutional work carries more weight than others because of the dependency relationships that exist between hospitals, MSEs and physicians. Physicians depend on MSEs and sales departments, who act as gatekeepers and buffers, to decide whether the value-based payment reform is either adopted or abandoned.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116798
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

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