For a moment, put yourself in a hospital administrator’s shoes—more specifically, those of a hospital administrator who is looking to hire a handful of new hospitalists. You know the job duties you need to fill. You know what qualifications a candidate should have. You even know the hours you need covered.
But there remains one gaping hole in the job description: compensation.
This is about giving our members the best, most valuable information available. By enabling hospital medicine groups to make better decisions, this partnership will ultimately translate into better care for patients.
—Tex Landis, MD, FHM, SHM Practice Analysis Committee chairman
The question of how much to offer hospitalists who are in the market for a new job—and, conversely, how much they can demand—has bedeviled the specialty since its inception. And, as HM continues its exponential growth throughout the national healthcare landscape, the devil is in the details. How does an administrator or HM group leader take into account years of experience in compensation? Do nocturnists demand more or less? What about shift work?
That picture will get clearer in 2010, thanks to a new partnership between SHM and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Together, the two groups are embarking on an ambitious new research project to provide hospital administrators and hospitalist practice leaders a comprehensive—and credible—set of data on hospitalist compensation and productivity. The data will be published in an annual report issued jointly by SHM and MGMA.
Previously, data available to hospitalists about the state of HM were researched and published by SHM every two years. The new partnership builds on the society’s original work by using questions similar to the SHM survey, but will add MGMA’s authority on such subjects and analytical firepower.
The SHM-MGMA partnership will provide two major improvements to HM and hospital administrators: the annual publication of results and MGMA’s stamp of approval to the research.
New data every year is a welcome change for David Friar, MD, president of Hospitalists of Northwest Michigan in Traverse City. “Things in hospital medicine continue to change very quickly. By the time new data is published, it’s already a few months old,” Dr. Friar says. “Doing the survey on the annual basis will be very useful to us.”
Credibility from an independent source, which MGMA has cultivated through nearly 80 years of organizational performance research, should go a long way when hospitalists are negotiating with hospital administrators. The original SHM-produced survey carried major weight within HM; this new collaborative survey will build on that success by expanding the survey’s credibility in hospitals across the country. Hospital administrators have been turning to MGMA data for other management metrics for years; now they will be able to use the same trusted source for decisions about their HM programs.
“When we negotiate with hospital administrators, we use the current data as a benchmark for comparison,” Dr. Friar says. “[Administrators] are much more familiar with MGMA. The marriage of the two should be very helpful.”