Physician pay bumps remain for next year

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Physicians across the healthcare sector should expect a median salary increase of 2.4 percent next year, but hospital-employed physicians are likely to receive lower raises, according to consulting firm Hay Group's 2013 physician compensation survey.

The survey also found physicians in group-based practices can expect larger pay increases than those in hospitals--3.7 percent compared to 2.2 percent.

"Overall physician compensation levels continue to modestly increase," said Jim Otto, senior principal in Hay Group's Healthcare Practice, in an announcement. "Physicians are being tasked with a growing list of new demands--from learning EHR systems to navigating new cost and business model structures--which are influencing how employers want to address compensation increases."

Primary care physicians can expect to see a slightly higher salary increase than specialists, especially in hospital-based settings.

For individual physician performance, upticks were reported in 2013 incentive plan metrics related to patient satisfaction (70 percent), quality (86 percent) and outcomes (54 percent), compared with 2012 (66 percent, 77 percent and 39 percent, respectively). Group performance metrics in physician incentive plans tracked similarly upward for patient satisfaction and quality.

"We expect an evolution--not revolution--in incentive plan design for physicians in coming years," Otto said. "Providers are looking to translate their organizational goals in a more tangible way that will drive the desired behaviors and outcomes they want to achieve. They are still struggling with the best ways to align physicians and other employees with broader goals, and to measure output quality."

As reported in January, new reimbursement models incentivize quality care, and hospitals are compensating their physician workforce with the same pay-for-performance mindset. The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), for instance, is now tying bonus payments for more than 3,500 employed physicians to performance on quality measures, the nation's largest public health system announced early this year.

However, the risk of exploitive behavior, as well as strict Stark law and anti-kickback statutes have been keeping some health systems from implementing quality and efficiency incentive programs.

To learn more:
- read the Hay Group announcement

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