A scoping review of alternative payment models in maternity care: Insights in key design elements and effects on health and spending

Eline F. De Vries*, Zoë T.M. Scheefhals, Mieneke De Bruin-kooistra, Caroline A. Baan, Jeroen N. Struijs

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although effects of alternative payment models on health outcomes and health spending are unclear, they are increasingly implemented in maternity care. We aimed to provide an overview of alternative payment models implemented in maternity care, describing their key design elements among which the type of APM, the care providers that participate in the model, populations and care services that are included and the applied risk mitigation strategies. Next to that, we made an inventory of the empirical evidence on the effects of APMs on maternal and neonatal health outcomes and spending on maternity care.

We searched PubMed, Embase and Scopus databases for articles published from January 2007 through October 2020. Search key words included ‘alternative payment model’, ‘value based payment model’, ‘obstetric’, ‘maternity’. English or Dutch language articles were included if they described or empirically evaluated initiatives implementing alternative payment models in maternity care in high-income countries. Additional relevant documents were identified through reference tracking. We systematically analyzed the initiatives found and examined the evidence regarding health outcomes and health spending. The process was guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) to ensure validity and reliability.

We identified 17 initiatives that implemented alternative payment models in maternity care. Thirteen in the United States, two in the United Kingdom, one in New Zealand and one in the Netherlands. Within these initiatives three types of alternative payment models were implemented; pay-for-performance (n = 2), shared savings models (n = 7) and bundled payment models (n = 8). Alternative payment models that shifted more financial accountability towards providers seemed to include more strategies that mitigated those risks. Risk mitigation strategies were applied to the included population, included services or at the level of total expenditures. Of these seventeen initiatives, we found four empirical effect studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Three of them were of moderate quality and one weak. Two studies described an association of the alternative payment model with an improvement of specific health outcomes and two studies described a reduction in medical spending.

This study shows that key design elements of alternative payment models including risk mitigation strategies vary highly. Risk mitigation strategies seem to be relevant tools to increase APM uptake and protect providers from (initially) bearing too much (perceived) financial risk. Empirical evidence on the effects of APMs on health outcomes and spending is still limited. A clear definition of key design elements and a further, in-depth, understanding of key design elements and how they operate into different health settings is required to shape payment reform that aligns with its goals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalInternational Journal of Integrated Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Alternative payment models
  • value-based health care
  • maternity care
  • apm
  • value-based payment
  • Payment reform
  • Review


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