Strong demand for HM clinicians a driving factor in compensation rise
by Richard Quinn
Median compensation for adult hospitalists rose to $233,855 in 2011, a 6% increase from the year prior, while productivity remained nearly static, according to recently released data. This latest uptick in HM compensation means that hospitalist pay has jumped more than 27% since 2008, when unadjusted figures pegged median hospitalist compensation at $183,900 nationwide.
The data, which excludes academic hospitalists, were reported in the Medical Group Management Association's (MGMA) Physician Compensation and Production Survey: 2012 Report Based on 2011 Data. The rise comes despite little movement in the number of work relative-value units (wRVUs) hospitalists are producing. In 2011, the median physician wRVU rate was 4,159, a 0.17% drop from the year prior.
"Over time, the industry has recognized there is a strong demand and there is a need for these types of practitioners," says Todd Evenson, MGMA director of data solutions. Evenson says he sees no immediate hurdles to the continued growth of hospitalist compensation, as hospitalists have established themselves as major players in most hospitals.
Although wRVUs might appear stable—they've ticked up 1.26% since 2010—the measure might not be as closely tied to compensation as healthcare reform redefines payment and reimbursement models, Evenson says. For example, bundled payments tied to quality of care and outcomes could have a limited impact on wRVUs but be a major driver of compensation.
Just how high compensation can climb, Evenson says, will depend on "the payment mechanisms that we start to see fall out of the legislation that occurs. ... As that evolves, I can't say I know the ceiling."
The report compiled data on 3,192 full-time hospitalists nationwide. Slightly more than 54% of the respondents worked in hospital-owned practices, while 27% are in physician-owned groups. The rest reported "other" practice models.
The MGMA survey data will be incorporated into SHM's State of Hospital Medicine report, due out later next month. In addition to information on individual physicians collected by MGMA, SHM's report includes group-level data valuable to HM groups, including financial data (subsidies and CPT code distribution) and staffing and scheduling.
The Hospitalist newsmagazine reports on issues and trends in hospital medicine. The Hospitalist reaches more than 25,000 hospitalists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, residents, and medical administrators interested in the practice and business of hospital medicine.