A Causal View of the Role and Potential Limitations of Capitation in Promoting Whole Health System Performance.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


For several decades, health systems in developed countries have faced rapidly rising healthcare costs without concomitant improvements in health outcomes. Fee for service (FFS) reimbursement mechanisms (RMs), where health systems are paid based on volume, contribute to this trend. In Singapore, the public health service is trying to curb rising healthcare costs by transitioning from a volume-based RM to a capitated payment for a population within a geographical catchment area. To provide insight into the implications of this transition, we developed a causal loop diagram (CLD) to represent a causal hypothesis of the complex relationship between RM and health system performance. The CLD was developed with input from government policymakers, healthcare institution administrators, and healthcare providers. This work highlights that the causal relationships between government, provider organizations, and physicians involve numerous feedback loops that drive the mix of health services. The CLD clarifies that a FFS RM incentivizes high margin services irrespective of their health benefits. While capitation has the potential to mitigate this reinforcing phenomenon, it is not sufficient to promote service value. This suggests the need to establish robust mechanisms to govern common pool resources while minimizing adverse secondary effects.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Matchar, David Bruce, Wei Xuan Lai, Ashish Kumar, John Pastor Ansah and Yeuk Fan Ng (2023). A Causal View of the Role and Potential Limitations of Capitation in Promoting Whole Health System Performance. International journal of environmental research and public health, 20(5). p. 4581. 10.3390/ijerph20054581 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26996.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



David Bruce Matchar

Professor of Medicine

My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.