Home From The Editor Does better value mean more money?

Does better value mean more money?

August 2010

Published in the August 2010 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

DOES A TOUGH ECONOMY combined with the demand for hospitalist services mean that physicians are working harder for not much more money? That question has been on my mind because of data coming in from several fronts.

This month’s cover story reports on how hospitalist programs are finding new ways to bring value to the table. While hospitalists have always proved their worth in terms of cost savings and better care, the article details how hospitalists are now expected to provide hospital-wide leadership, not just great performance on core measures.

But do hospitals have the money to reward hospitalists for that greater value? This summer, the American Hospital Association released survey data that showed hospitals were still reeling from the recession. The majority of hospitals, for instance, reported fewer elective procedures and more patients unable to pay for their care.

At the same time, we’re seeing conflicting views on hospitalist salaries. We’re reviewing data from our latest salary survey (thanks to the nearly 700 of you who participated). At first blush, it looks like many of you are reporting very small increases in income over the last year.

That’s a very different picture than the one painted this summer by the Society of Hospital Medicine and MGMA. According to their first combined survey, SHM/MGMA found that hospitalists in 2009-10 enjoyed a whopping 20% mean increase in salary since 2007-08.

However, that big increase may have as much to do with changes in survey methodology as actual hospitalist salaries. SHM didn’t include the pay of academic hospitalists in this year’s survey, for example, while it did include additional income like productivity and quality incentives.

We’ll try to sort out trends in hospitalist income and differences in survey findings. In the meantime, hospitalists remain in great demand and are providing more value than ever. But if hospitals are tapped out, how will the convergence of those trends affect hospitalist workload “and pay?

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher