Enter SHM and its large database of HM groups. What has resulted in the new survey rivals those old commercials in which a person walking with a piece of chocolate slams into another with a jar of peanut butter, resulting in the creation of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (apologies to those readers under the age of 35).
Act III: No Raise; Children Go Hungry
(Unsheathing haloed document from his portfolio)
Perhaps we could agree to use these new SHM/MGMA numbers as our benchmark. It includes data from more than 440 HM groups and 4,200 hospitalists. And it appears to be fair and balanced.
(Eyes alight, peering through a shroud of compromise)
MGMA, huh? Let’s take a look. Hmmm. Well. But wait—this says the average hospitalist makes $215,000! That’s outrageous.
Yes, sir, we are severely underpaid.
(Reading; a weasel-like countenance overtakes his face)
Let me take a closer look at this. Aha! Here it is. You see, this only included community hospitalist practices. You will be getting no raise!
(Blackout and end of Act III.)
A Cautionary Tale
Alas, the miser is right. It’s not always what the data say but also what they don’t say.
The one snag with the new data is that it only included a handful of academic HM groups (only 1% of respondents). In fact, the survey actively instructed academic HM practices to not complete the survey. Rather, we academic types were instructed to await the MGMA survey of academic practices completed every fall to be reported early next year.
This is emblematic of the need to dig deep when interpreting these data. As tempting as it is to use a sound bite or two of these data to your advantage, the truth lies in the details. It’s easy to say that all hospitalists should make $215,000, see 2,229 encounters, and achieve 4,107 wRVUs annually.
However, just as there is no average hospitalist, there are no average numbers. There are just too many variables (e.g., practice ownership, geography, group size, night coverage, staffing model, compensation structure) to say definitively what an individual hospitalist should look like or achieve. Rather, these numbers should be used as a guide, adapted to each individual situation.
Act IV: See You This Spring
(Standing, Good-Looking Me shakes his foe’s shriveled claw of a hand while looking him intensely in the eye—a look that says, “I’ll see you this spring.” In his rival’s eyes, the Miser sees his future—a future that involves another meeting, more practice-appropriate data, and a dusting off of his checkbook.)
(Blackout and end of Act IV.) TH
Dr. Glasheen is associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, where he serves as director of the Hospital Medicine Program and the Hospitalist Training Program, and as associate program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program.