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More on survey data

October 2010

Published in the October 2010 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

The August 2010 “From the Editor” column (“Does better value mean more money?“) notes that the Society of Hospital Medicine’s most recent survey “found that hospitalists in 2009-10 enjoyed a whopping 20% mean increase in salary since 2007-08.” The column hypothesized that this big increase was likely due to differences in the way the survey was conducted, explaining that this was the first time SHM didn’t include academic hospitalists in its survey.

SHM and the Medical Group Management Association collaborated to conduct this survey, and are encouraging hospitalists to avoid comparing these results to previous SHM surveys. While it’s true that there are few academic medical center-based practices in the new data set, there are other differences in methodology.

Because we sent survey invitations to contacts from both SHM and MGMA, for example, the new survey contains more responses from MGMA-member multispecialty groups than prior SHM surveys. The latest survey also saw increased participation by hospitalists working at management companies than were in the SHM’s 2007-08 survey.

But an even bigger difference is how the latest survey reports data on individual compensation and production. Previously, the SHM survey took responses from hospitalists who worked for less than a year or who worked more or less than full time. We then used a formula to convert those responses to a 1.0 FTE-equivalent value. The new survey, by comparison, includes only providers who meet the MGMA’s definition of “full-time.” As a result, the new survey doesn’t include the responses of providers who worked for less than the full reporting year, nor responses of providers who work less than 0.75 FTE. Data were reported on a per-physician basis, rather than on an adjusted per-FTE basis.

In addition, MGMA’s survey operations department validates and scrubs data much more rigorously than SHM was able to do. While we are confident that this has enhanced the data’s validity and reliability, we know it makes it difficult to compare the results of our new survey to prior SHM surveys.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the SHM-MGMA data represents only a 2.8% increase in median hospitalist compensation compared to MGMA’s 2009 survey.

Leslie Flores, MHA Senior Advisor, Practice Management
Society of Hospital Medicine