Impact of Performance-Based Financing on Primary Health Care Services in Haiti
To strengthen Haiti’s primary health care (PHC) system, the country first piloted performance-based financing (PBF) in 1999 and subsequently expanded the approach to most internationally funded non-government organizations. PBF complements support (training and technical assistance). This study evaluates (a) the separate impact of PBF and international support on PHC’s service delivery; (b) the combined impact of PBF and technical assistance on PHC’s service delivery; and (c) the costs of PBF implementation in Haiti. To minimize the risk of facilities neglecting potential non-incentivized services, the incentivized indicators were randomly chosen at the end of each year. We obtained quantities of key services from four departments for 217 health centres (15 with PBF and 202 without) from 2008 through 2010, computed quarterly growth rates and analysed the results using a difference-in-differences approach by comparing the growth of incentivized and non-incentivized services between PBF and non-PBF facilities. To interpret the statistical analyses, we also interviewed staff in four facilities. Whereas international support added 39% to base costs of PHC, incentive payments added only 6%. Support alone increased the quantities of PHC services over 3 years by 35% (2.7%/quarter). However, support plus incentives increased these amounts by 87% over 3 years (5.7%/quarter) compared with facilities with neither input. Incentives alone was associated with a net 39% increase over this period, and more than doubled the growth of services (P < 0.05). Interview findings found no adverse impacts and, in fact, indicated beneficial impacts on quality. Incentives proved to be a relatively inexpensive, well accepted and very effective complement to support, suggesting that a small amount of money, strategically used, can substantially improve PHC. Haiti’s experience, after more than a decade of use, indicates that incentives are an effective tool to strengthen PHC.