Most physicians not compensated for medical orders, tests, diagnostic imaging

Eighty-two percent of physicians are not compensated for prescriptions, lab tests, diagnostic imaging, hospital admissions and facility/surgery fees, according to a new survey conducted by Jackson Healthcare. Contrary to popular belief, physicians are not raking in big bucks for ordering more tests typically associated with defensive medicine. Rather, doctors' compensation comes from fixed salary, hourly or stipend sources (36 percent of physicians reported), as well as productivity (12 percent) and practice ownership (8 percent).

In an online survey of 1,512 physicians conducted in April and released this month, researchers asked physicians about their various sources of compensation.

At most, only 6.2 percent of physicians' total compensation comes from tests, procedures and admissions that they order, according to Jackson Healthcare. Physicians receive 2.3 percent of their total compensation from diagnostic imaging charges, 1.3 percent from facility fees for surgery charges, 1.1 percent from hospital admission charges, 1 percent from lab test charges and 0.5 percent from prescription charges.

"The regulatory environment today makes it very difficult for physicians to profit from their medical referrals and orders," Richard Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, said Tuesday in a press release. Stark law and other anti-kickback statues prevent physicians from profiting from certain referrals and orders.

"There are two primary reasons physicians order tests and treatments they consider medically unnecessary," added Jackson. "They are personally financially liable for patient awards and they want to avoid the hassles of going to court," he said.

To learn more:
- check out the Jackson Healthcare press release
- read the full Jackson Healthcare physician compensation survey