Up-to-date pay models critical to physician recruiting

In the past, those who wanted to hire physicians more or less took a guess at what they should pay, and what incentives they should include in physicians' pay package. Salaries and incentives varied widely around the country, and few professional pay standards existed.

These days, however, hospitals and medical practices who want to recruit physicians have a few generally-accepted models from which to choose when they're setting up compensation packages, note columnists Peter Cebulka and Tommy Bohannon in HealthLeaders Media.

Of course, the most traditional way to bring on any worker is to hire them as a W-2 employee on the hospital or practice's payroll.  Salaries aren't attractive to many physicians, but in some specialties where income is traditionally lower--the authors cite pediatric sub-specialties and psychiatrists as examples--a salary sometimes makes sense, they say. Right now, however, only 14 percent of recruiting assignments for Merritt Hawkins & Associates feature straight salaries.

More often, providers hiring doctors include a base salary and and a production bonus, a model that made up 65 percent of Merritt Hawkins' searches. This bonus can be based on gross billings for the practice, net collections for that physician, practice volume measures such as Relative Value Units and even quality and patient satisfaction scores.

Finally, some providers may not want to hire doctors, but recruit them into an existing practice. This is typically done by offering physicians an income guarantee for the first 12 to 24 months, a model used by 16 percent of Merritt Hawkins assignments.

To learn more about these models:
- read this HealthLeaders Media piece

Related Articles:
Specialty physician compensation barely keeps up with inflation
Study: Physician compensation not keeping up with inflation
Physician compensation 69 percent greater for medical directors in non-hospital-owned practices

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