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1.  Performance-based financing as a health system reform: mapping the key dimensions for monitoring and evaluation 
Background
Performance-based financing is increasingly being applied in a variety of contexts, with the expectation that it can improve the performance of health systems. However, while there is a growing literature on implementation issues and effects on outputs, there has been relatively little focus on interactions between PBF and health systems and how these should be studied. This paper aims to contribute to filling that gap by developing a framework for assessing the interactions between PBF and health systems, focusing on low and middle income countries. In doing so, it elaborates a general framework for monitoring and evaluating health system reforms in general.
Methods
This paper is based on an exploratory literature review and on the work of a group of academics and PBF practitioners. The group developed ideas for the monitoring and evaluation framework through exchange of emails and working documents. Ideas were further refined through discussion at the Health Systems Research symposium in Beijing in October 2012, through comments from members of the online PBF Community of Practice and Beijing participants, and through discussion with PBF experts in Bergen in June 2013.
Results
The paper starts with a discussion of definitions, to clarify the core concept of PBF and how the different terms are used. It then develops a framework for monitoring its interactions with the health system, structured around five domains of context, the development process, design, implementation and effects. Some of the key questions for monitoring and evaluation are highlighted, and a systematic approach to monitoring effects proposed, structured according to the health system pillars, but also according to inputs, processes and outputs.
Conclusions
The paper lays out a broad framework within which indicators can be prioritised for monitoring and evaluation of PBF or other health system reforms. It highlights the dynamic linkages between the domains and the different pillars. All of these are also framed within inter-sectoral and wider societal contexts. It highlights the importance of differentiating short term and long term effects, and also effects (intended and unintended) at different levels of the health system, and for different sectors and areas of the country. Outstanding work will include using and refining the framework and agreeing on the most important hypotheses to test using it, in relation to PBF but also other purchasing and provider payment reforms, as well as appropriate research methods to use for this task.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-367
PMCID: PMC3849795  PMID: 24073625
Performance-based financing; Health systems reforms; Monitoring and evaluation
2.  Iraqi primary care system in Kurdistan region: providers’ perspectives on problems and opportunities for improvement 
Background
As part of a comprehensive study on the primary health care system in Iraq, we sought to explore primary care providers’ perspectives about the main problems influencing the provision of primary care services and opportunities to improve the system.
Methods
A qualitative study based on four focus groups involving 40 primary care providers from 12 primary health care centres was conducted in Erbil governorate in the Iraqi Kurdistan region between July and October 2010. A topic guide was used to lead discussions and covered questions on positive aspects of and current problems with the primary care system in addition to the priority needs for its improvement. The discussions were fully transcribed and the qualitative data was analyzed by content analysis, followed by a thematic analysis.
Results
Problems facing the primary care system included inappropriate health service delivery (irrational use of health services, irrational treatment, poor referral system, poor infrastructure and poor hygiene), health workforce challenges (high number of specialists, uneven distribution of the health workforce, rapid turnover, lack of training and educational opportunities and discrepancies in the salary system), shortage in resources (shortage and low quality of medical supplies and shortage in financing), poor information technology and poor leadership/governance. The greatest emphasis was placed on poor organization of health services delivery, particularly the irrational use of health services and the related overcrowding and overload on primary care providers and health facilities. Suggestions for improving the system included application of a family medicine approach and ensuring effective planning and monitoring.
Conclusions
This study has provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that negatively affect the primary care system in Iraq’s Kurdistan region from the perspective of primary care providers. From their experience, primary care providers have a role in informing the community and policy makers about the main problems affecting this system, though improvements to the health care system must be taken up at the national level and involve other key stakeholders.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-21
PMCID: PMC3492068  PMID: 23016849
Primary care; Care providers; Focus group; Service delivery; Kurdistan region

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