If your practice has a vacation system that works well, then stick with it. But if you or your administrators are going nuts trying to categorize nonworking days between vacation and days the doctor simply wasn’t scheduled, then it might be best to stop trying. Just settle on the number of shifts (or some other metric) that a doctor is to work each year.
Tenure-based salary increases. It makes a lot of sense to pay doctors in most specialties an increasing salary based on his or her tenure with the practice. As they build a patient population and a referral stream, they generate more revenue and should benefit accordingly. But a new hospitalist who joins an existing group almost never has to build the referrals. In most cases, the group hired the doctor because the referrals are already coming and the practice needs more help, or the new doctor is replacing a departing one. So paying a new hospitalist a lower salary that increases automatically every few years isn’t really a raise earned by the doctor’s improved financial performance. Usually it’s just a system of withholding money that could be available for compensation for the doctor’s first few years in the practice. This lower starting salary might adversely impact recruiting. For more, see “Compensation Conundrum” from December 2009.
Poor roles for nonphysician providers (NPPs). I’ve worked with a lot of practices that have NPs and PAs (and, in some cases, RNs) who are doing what amounts to clerical work. They’re faxing discharge summaries, making calls to schedule patient appointments, dividing up the overnight admissions for the day rounders, etc.
Don’t make this mistake. Hire a secretary for that sort of work. And be sure that the roles occupied by trained clinicians (PAs, NPs, RNs, etc.) are professionally satisfying and will position them to make an effective contribution to the practice.
Blinded performance reporting. First, make sure your practice provides regular, meaningful reports on each doctor’s performance and the group as a whole. This usually takes the form of a dashboard or report card. In my experience, too few practices do this. Make sure your group isn’t in that category.
Groups that do provide performance data often allow each doctor to see only his or her data. If data about other individuals in the group are provided, the names have often been removed. With exception of certain human resources issues (e.g. counseling a doctor to prevent termination), I think all performance data in the group should be shared by name with the whole group. In most practices, everyone should know by name which doctors are the high and low producers, each doctor’s compensation, and CPT coding practices (e.g. the portion of discharges coded at the high level).
When clinical performance can be attributed to individual providers, report those metrics openly, too. This usually creates greater cohesion within the group and helps foster a mentality of practice ownership. TH
Dr. Nelson has been a practicing hospitalist since 1988 and is co-founder and past president of SHM. He is a principal in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants a national hospitalist practice management consulting firm (www.nelsonflores.com). He is course co-director and faculty for SHM’s “Best Practices in Managing a Hospital Medicine Program.” This column represents his views and is not intended to reflect an official position of SHM.