Published in the March 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
For years, hospital medicine has been moving away from compensation based strictly on salary to pay plans that incorporate bonuses and incentives. According to the 2011 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, close to 70% of hospitalists report that bonuses and incentives play a part in their compensation, but in varying degrees. Here’s a look at the value of bonuses and incentives for hospitalists, and the factors that go into bonus pay.
Factors that affect bonuses
Practice management consultants point out that to influence physician behavior, bonuses and incentives need to amount to at least 10% of physicians’ overall pay. Hospitalist groups seem to have taken that advice to heart. In our survey, hospitalists report that on average, 18% of their annual income comes from bonuses and incentives.
In terms of dollar amounts, hospitalists report that they receive an average of $45,000 per year from bonuses and incentives. Hospitalist bonuses and incentives, however, show significant variation.
Here’s a look at factors that had the biggest impact on bonuses and incentives:
- Patient type: While adult hospitalists receive an average of $47,237 in bonuses and incentives, pediatric hospitalists report receiving $25,134.
- Practice type: Hospitalists working at local hospitalist groups report significantly higher bonus amounts ($60,787) than hospitalists working at universities and medical schools ($30,760).
- Patient volume: Hospitalists who see 10 patients or less per shift receive an average bonus of $21,157, compared to $40,656 for hospitalists who report seeing 21 or more patients per shift.
- Physician age: While hospitalists between ages 26 and 35 receive an average bonus of $25,470, hospitalists 50 and older receive $36,246.
- Geography: Hospitalists in the Southwest report an average bonus of $77,000, while hospitalists in the Northeast say they receive bonuses averaging $33,000.
What measures count?
To calculate bonuses, groups are using measures that most hospitalists will recognize.
Topping the list are productivity measures, which include the number of admissions, shifts worked and RVUs. Quality measures, such as satisfaction scores and documentation, are also popular in determining bonus amounts.
Pediatric hospitalist programs and adult hospitalist programs are for the most part using the same types of measures to establish bonuses.
Productivity measures are the most popular at national hospitalist management companies (83%), while quality and clinical measures are the most popular with hospital-employed groups.
And while universities and medical schools are just as likely to tie bonuses to productivity measures, theyre much less likely to use most of the other measures we asked about. Larger groups are more likely to use measures like productivity and quality measures when it comes to awarding bonuses than are smaller groups. But larger groups don’t necessarily pay more in terms of dollar amounts than smaller groups do.