How to Use Hospitalist Productivity, Compensation Survey Data

The 2014 State of Hospital Medicine report (SOHM), published by SHM in the fall of even years, is unquestionably the most robust and informative data available to understand the hospitalist workforce marketplace. And if you are the person who returned a completed survey for your practice, you get a free copy of the report mailed to you.

Keep in mind that the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) surveys and reports data on hospitalist productivity and compensation every year. And the data acquired by MGMA in even years is simply folded into the SOHM, along with a ton of additional information added by a separate SHM survey, including things like the amount of financial support provided to hospitalist groups by hospitals (now up to a median of $156, 063 per full-time equivalent, or FTE).

I’ve written previously about some of the ways that the data reported in both of these surveys can be tricky to interpret (September 2013 and October 2013), and in this column I’ll go a little deeper into how to use the data reported on number of shifts worked and productivity.

A Common Question

Assume that, to address a staffing shortage or simply as a way to boost their income, some of the doctors in your group are willing to work more shifts than required for full-time status. And, in your group, some portion of a doctor’s compensation is a function of their individual work relevant value unit (wRVU) productivity—for example, a bonus for wRVUs above a certain threshold. You want to know whether the wRVU productivity generated by a doctor on their extra shifts should factor into compensation the same way it does for “regular” shifts.

You might turn to the MGMA and SOHM surveys to see how other groups handle this issue. But here is where it gets tricky.

First, you need to realize that the MGMA surveys, and similar ones from the American Medical Group Association and others, report wRVUs and compensation per physician, not per FTE. So wRVUs generated by these doctors on extra shifts are included, and you can’t tell from the aggregate data what portion of wRVUs came from regular shifts and what portion came from extra shifts.

And it is critical to keep in mind that any doctor who works at least 0.8 FTE as defined by that particular practice is reported as full time. Those working 79% or less of full time are counted by MGMA as part time.

Because such a significant portion of hospitalist groups have had chronic staffing shortages, a lot of hospitalists across the country are working extra shifts, probably more than are working between 0.8 and 1.0 FTE. So the hospitalist survey wRVU data is probably at least a little higher than it would be if it were reported per FTE.

To summarize: The MGMA and similar surveys don’t provide data on wRVU productivity per FTE, even though in most cases that is how everyone describes the data. Instead, the surveys provide data per individual doctor, many of whom work more or less than 1.0 FTE. So, despite the fact that most people, including me, tend to quote data from the surveys as though it is per FTE, as in “The 2014 MGMA data shows median hospitalist compensation is $253,977 per FTE,” we should say “per doctor” instead.

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