[This article was originally published in HealthcarePapers, Volume 6, Number 4.]

Recent reports in the United States and Canada provide evidence that healthcare systems routinely fail to deliver safe and high-quality healthcare services. Governments and other healthcare payers have begun to experiment with pay-for-performance programs that offer healthcare providers and organizations financial incentives for quality. The purpose of this paper is (1) to provide an overview of the design of major pay-for-performance programs in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, with specific focus on government-sponsored programs, and (2) to articulate some considerations for potential implementation of pay-for-performance in Canada.