Home Career A look at hospitalist incentives

A look at hospitalist incentives

February 2013

Published in the February 2013 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Hospitalists long ago got used to the idea that they’ll be paid, at least in part, based on productivity and quality. But recent data show that the percentage of compensation coming from bonuses and incentives, as well as dollar amounts, may be fluctuating slightly. While the overwhelming majority of hospitalists “91% “report receiving at least some compensation from bonuses and incentives, less of their income came from those bonuses in 2012 than in 2011. Here’s a look at how hospitalist compensation is being affected by bonuses and incentives.

Dropping dollars
According to data from the 2012 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, hospitalists who receive a bonus or incentive say that on average, just under 17% of their income comes from that source. That number is down slightly from our 2011 data, which found that pay from incentives or bonuses accounted for 17.64% of hospitalist pay. It is up, however, from four years ago, when hospitalists reported that just 10.45% of their pay came from a bonus or incentive.

The dollar amount of bonuses and incentives for hospitalists shows a similar pattern. The mean dollar amount of bonuses and incentives “$36,662 “is down significantly from the year before, when hospitalists said that they received an average of $44,883. Four years ago, by comparison, hospitalists reported receiving an average of $32,499 from bonuses and incentives.

Bonuses by practice type
A look at the data reveals some significant differences in the bonuses and incentives that hospitalists receive. Full-time pediatric hospitalists, for example, report earning an average of $21,375 from bonuses and incentives. Full-time adult hospitalists, on the other hand, report an average of $37,092 from bonuses and incentives.

Equally dramatic differences can be seen in the bonus amounts that hospitalists working in different practice settings receive. On the high end are hospitalists working for local groups, who report more than $56,000 in bonuses and incentives, and hospitalists working for medical schools and universities, who report total incentive pay of just over $47,000. Hospitalists working for multispecialty/primary care groups, by comparison, report receiving $27,750 in bonus pay.

By geography, all the regions of the country but one report average bonus pay in the low $30,000 range. The exception was the South, where hospitalists report receiving nearly $47,000 in income from bonuses and incentives.

Productivity, then quality
It probably comes as little surprise that productivity measures (number of admissions, shifts worked, etc.) are the most popular factor used to calculate hospitalist bonuses and incentives. Just under 80% of hospitalists say that productivity is a factor in their bonus pay.
Quality measures are the second most-popular component. Just under two-thirds (63%) of hospitalists said that indicators like patient satisfaction and guideline compliance are factors in the bonus and incentive amounts they receive.

Individual vs. group incentives
When it comes to bonuses and incentives, more hospitalists say they’re being rewarded based on their individual performance, not the performance of the group. And most say that’s the way they like it.

In our survey, 41.6% of hospitalists say their bonus pay is based on individual performance. Not quite one-fifth (17.7%) reported that bonus pay is based on the group’s performance, while 40.7% said that bonuses and incentives are based on a combination of both.

Hospitalists who work for multispecialty/primary care groups are the most likely to have bonuses and incentives based on individual performance. Almost two-thirds (63%) of hospitalists in those groups receive individual-performance bonus pay.

And hospitalists who work for national hospitalist management companies are most likely to see group performance rewarded. One-third of hospitalists in those groups reported that bonus pay was based on the group’s performance.

When we asked hospitalists how they would like bonus pay to be distributed, most “57.1% “identified individual performance. Only 7.8% said they would like bonuses and incentives to be based on group performance, while 35.1% said they would like to see a combination of the two.