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How big is your bonus?

August 2014

Published in the August 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

HOW MUCH MONEY should you be earning from bonuses and incentives? That question is difficult to answer because the dollar amount of bonuses has fluctuated in the five years we’ve been tracking it. But if you look at bonuses as a total percentage of income, the data become a little more clear. Here’s a look at results from our most recent survey.

Yearly fluctuations
According to the 2013 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, hospitalists report receiving 18% of their total income from bonuses and incentives. That translates to an average of $41,517.

The percent of income that hospitalists derive from bonuses has climbed steadily in the years we’ve asked the question. In our 2010 survey, for example, hospitalists reported that just over 14% of their income came from bonuses.

Look at bonus income in terms of dollars and cents, however, and you’ll see fluctuations. In our 2010 survey, hospitalists said that $48,516 of their income came from bonuses. That number dropped to a low of $36,662 in our 2012 survey and then climbed back up to $41,517 last year.

How is bonus/incentive pay being awarded?
When we asked what metrics were used to calculate bonuses, 84% of hospitalists identified productivity (number of admissions, shifts worked, RVUs) as most common. Quality measures such as patient satisfaction scores and guideline compliance ranked a strong second at 67%.

We also asked if bonuses/incentives were awarded based on group performance or that of individual physicians. Just over one-third (35%) said their program used individual performance, while 19% relied on group performance. Nearly half (46%) said their group used a combination of individual and group performance to determine bonuses.

What do hospitalists think?
Only 4% of responding hospitalists said they like the idea of paying bonuses based only on group performance. More than half (53%) would prefer bonuses based on individual performance, and 43% thought bonuses should be based on a combination of individual and group performance.

Finally, when we asked hospitalists how they expect bonuses to change over the next five years, there were some clear trends. While just under one-third of hospitalists (28%) expect bonuses based on productivity to rise, 53% said they expect bonuses based on quality measures to increase.

august poll