Physicians compensated for volume, not quality

Like nails against a chalkboard, a new study by Merritt Hawkins reveals that physicians are compensated for patient volume and not quality, a trend that has some dismayed at current recruitment and compensation approaches.

In general, 74 percent of recruited jobs offer performance bonuses. Despite national initiatives to reward for quality of care, 90 percent of those recruited jobs are linked to "fee-for-service style volume," according to the "2011 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives" study, reports the Wall Street Journal. Only 7 percent of jobs offer bonuses for quality or cost reduction objectives.

The study also included recruitment trends. One in two physician job openings are currently in hospitals, reports HealthLeaders Media.

Study researchers also noted signing bonuses are a commonly-used incentive (and expectation) of physician candidates. Seventy-six percent of recruited jobs offer a signing bonus, estimated at an average of $23,790, up from $22,915 in the previous year, reports American Medical News. Other recruitment incentives include loan forgiveness (12 percent) and housing allowance (6 percent).

"Signing bonuses have gone from carrot at the end of the stick to an expected part of the package," said Travis Singleton, senior vice president for Merritt Hawkins. "It's an extreme negative these days if you don't have a signing bonus."

The Merritt Hawkins study will publish this summer, according to amednews.

For more:
- read The Wall Street Journal blog post
- check out the AMA News article
- here's the HealthLeaders Media article