The design of incentive schemes that improve quality of care is a central issue for the healthcare sector. Nowadays we observe many pay-for-performance programs, where payment is contingent on meeting indicators of provider effort, but also other alternative strategies have been introduced, for example programs rewarding physicians for participation in diseases management plans. Although it has been recognised that incentive-based remuneration schemes can have an impact on GP behaviour, there is still weak empirical evidence on the extent to which such programs influence health outcomes. We investigate the impact of financial incentives in Regional and Local Health Authority contracts for primary care in the Italian Region Emilia Romagna for the years 2003-05. We focus on avoidable hospitalisations (Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions) for patients affected by type 2 diabetes mellitus, for which the assumption of responsibility and the adoption of clinical guidelines are specifically rewarded. We estimate a panel count data model using a Negative Binomial distribution to test the hypothesis that, other things equal, patients under the responsibility of GPs receiving a higher share of their income through these programs are less likely to experience avoidable hospitalisations. Our findings support the hypothesis that financial transfers may contribute to improve quality of care, even when they are not based on the ex-post verification of performances.