SOURCE: ECG Management Consultants, Inc.

November 20, 2007 17:04 ET

ECG Management Consultants, Inc. Releases Findings From Washington State and Oregon "Provider Compensation, Production, and Benefits Surveys"

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - November 20, 2007) - ECG Management Consultants, Inc., one of the nation's premier healthcare management consulting firms, today announced the release of its eighth annual Washington State and seventh annual Oregon "Provider Compensation, Production, and Benefits Surveys."

ECG's surveys analyze and report information from over 4,000 healthcare providers representing 43 physician subspecialties and 9 midlevel provider specialties in the states of Washington and Oregon. The surveys include critical data such as compensation-to-production ratios, including work and total relative value units (RVUs), procedure code distributions, trends in recruiting by specialty, and specialty-specific benefit and malpractice comparisons. This information, coupled with ECG's interpretation of market trends, enables survey participants to assess their performance relative to the competitive local market.

General findings in the 2007 surveys based on 2006 data indicate the following:

--  Compensation relative to work RVU production increased for Northwest
    physicians by 2.4 percent as a result of compensation gains of 5.4 percent
    on declining production.
--  Primary care physicians will produce between 16 and 22 percent more
    work RVUs under the 2007 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) than they
    did under the 2006 Medicare PFS.  Subspecialty physicians will produce
    between 0 and 22 percent more work RVUs under the 2007 Medicare PFS.
--  Malpractice premiums have declined in the region as a result of tort
    reform and the residual effects on the insurance provider market.
    Malpractice expenses decreased in both Oregon and Washington -- 7.2 and 4.8
    percent respectively over 2006 report data.
--  Physician benefits expenses continue to increase, and for the first
    time in 4 years, have increased relative to compensation.  Washington
    physician benefits expense per FTE increased to over $40,000, while Oregon
    physician benefits expense increased to over $34,600 per FTE.
--  The majority of provider organizations are recruiting primary care
    physicians but are reporting significant challenges in filling open
    positions.  The top three recruited specialties in the Northwest include
    family practice without OB, internal medicine, and internal medicine --
--  Health-system-employed groups continue to experience significant
    losses (approximately 19 percent of collections), while independent groups
    are reserving approximately 3 percent of collections for working capital.

"Competition for physicians in the Northwest is presenting challenges for provider organizations," said Ms. Maria C. Hayduk, a manager at ECG. "As a result of a shortage of physicians and the expansion of hospitalist programs and service lines within integrated health systems, physician recruiting and retention have become the priorities for Northwest provider organizations."

"Physician operations and compensation systems need to reflect local market conditions and nuances in order to be effective," said Mr. James W. Lord, a principal at ECG. "Many surveys report good national data but few are able to capture the local economics. This information is critical for physicians and administrators who recruit nationally but operate locally. ECG developed its Washington and Oregon statewide surveys in 2000 and 2001 respectively, and now provides similar customized surveys for other states, subspecialty groups, and healthcare systems. Our Northwest surveys are built on an understanding of 8 years of data analysis and trends. Those groups that participate in the surveys have a clear understanding of local issues and trends necessary to drive rational business decisions."

ECG Survey Methodology

The "Compensation, Production, and Benefits Surveys" are developed in partnership with local healthcare leaders and ECG's physician compensation and production experts. These experts go to extraordinary lengths to ensure data quality and validity. Raw survey data is reviewed by ECG's experts, who identify outliers for verification by the surveys' participants -- if data cannot be validated it is removed. At the conclusion of this process, ECG converts the raw data into information.

About ECG Management Consultants, Inc.

ECG offers a broad range of strategic, financial, operational, and technology-related consulting services to healthcare providers. ECG provides specialized expertise in developing and implementing innovative and customized solutions that effectively address hospital/physician relationships, strategic and business planning, specialty program development, information technology, and the complexities of the academic healthcare enterprise. ECG has offices in Seattle; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Diego; and St. Louis. For more information, visit

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