Future Role of Productivity Compensation
I don’t think all the talk about value-based reimbursement means we should abandon the idea of connecting a portion of compensation to productivity. The first two practice management columns I wrote for The Hospitalist appeared in May 2006 (www.the-hospitalist.org/details/article/252413/The_Sweet_Spot.html) and June 2006 (www.the-hospitalist.org/details/article/246297.html) and recommended tying a meaningful portion of compensation to individual hospitalist productivity, and I think it still makes sense to do so.
In any business or industry, financial performance is connected to the amount of product produced and its value. In the future, both metrics will determine reimbursement for even the highest performing healthcare providers. The new emphasis on value won’t ever make it unnecessary to produce at a reasonable level.
Unquestionably, there are many high-performing hospitalist practices with little or no productivity component in the compensation formula. So it isn’t an absolute sine qua non for success. But I think many practices dismiss it as a viable option when it might solve problems and liberate individuals in the group to exercise some autonomy in finding their own sweet spot between workload and compensation.
It will be interesting to see if future surveys show that the portion of dollars tied to hospitalist productivity continues to decrease, despite what I see as its potential benefits.
Dr. Nelson has been a practicing hospitalist since 1988. He is co-founder and past president of SHM, and principal in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants. He is co-director for SHM’s “Best Practices in Managing a Hospital Medicine Program” course. Write to him at [email protected].