Given the many recent developments in healthcare, physician salaries remain an important focus point. President Obama has placed tremendous focus on quality and outcome-based payment for services rendered. Yet, there remain many physicians whose salaries are guaranteed.
The trend however is shifting towards incentive-based physician remuneration. In particular, compensation that is linked to productivity and clinical behavior. Incentive-based remuneration involves the detailed measurement of outcomes, quality, throughput, length of stay, complications, patient satisfaction, and many other metrics. Many hospitals have incorporated performance-based contract guarantees for those contract management groups that provide outsourced physician services. Thus, conditions for contract renewal are in part based upon the attainment of said goals when providing physician services. This trickles down from the group to individual physician performance.
Interestingly, the more profitable physician(s) are to hospitals, groups, etc., the more tolerant they are to higher operating costs, equipment, ancillary staff needs, and other expenses. Additionally, there is looser constraint on strict incentive-based compensation models, if any at all. It is clear that hospitals will encourage those physician services that earn money, while heavily incentivizing those which don’t.
When it comes right down to it, physician salaries will remain a great focus for many. In the coming years, there will undoubtedly be a gradual shift towards incentive-based physician compensation. Given this forthcoming trend, I hope the physician remains whole, compassionate, and un-hurried when practicing. And yes, I hope this leads to improved patient care – that’s what the main goal is right?