SOURCE: ECG Management Consultants

ECG Management Consultants

October 21, 2015 10:00 ET

ECG Management Consultants' 2015 Physician Compensation Survey Identifies Positive Change in Physician Performance and Continued Upward Trend in Compensation

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - October 21, 2015) - ECG Management Consultants, a national consulting firm working exclusively with healthcare providers, has released the results of its 2015 Physician Compensation Survey. One of the survey's most notable findings is that compensation and production for primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists have increased over 2014 levels. In 2015, compensation for PCPs and specialists increased by 4.8% and 5.1%, respectively, while WRVUs overall increased by 0.4% over last year's survey results. Compensation increases have been the norm over the past 5 years, but the change in WRVUs represents a positive trend in physician performance. The net effect of these changes is a 0.3% increase in compensation per WRVU over 2014 levels. Although positive, it is modest in comparison to gains experienced in recent years.

Despite the increase in production, integrated health systems continue to invest significantly in their physician organizations. In 2015, the investment/loss per physician for integrated health systems in ECG's survey averaged $194,266 per physician.

"Health systems are making significant investments in their physician enterprise at a time when compensation has steadily increased and production has not maintained pace," said Jim Lord, ECG Principal and head of the firm's Midwest practice. "While this is a tough transition, these investments are critical to succeeding in a value-based healthcare system."

Lord also noted that regulatory pressures are hastening the shift to value-based care delivery. "With Medicare targeting over 50% of payments in 2018 on value, this isn't some far-away future state. Rather, it's a more immediate transition that requires transformation of today's compensation and incentive structures to better align with reformed payment mechanisms as well as organizational strategic and financial goals," he said.

ECG's Physician Compensation Survey is the most comprehensive provider performance study in the healthcare industry. The survey, now in its 16th year, reports detailed compensation and productivity data based on responses from more than 24,000 healthcare providers across the country. In addition to collecting and reporting on compensation and production, ECG's survey assesses a multitude of factors that affect a provider's performance and ability to generate income, including compensation planning methodologies, provider benefits, recruiting, retention, operating policies, and healthcare IT practices. Further, ECG's survey presents in-depth information on how organizations are incorporating value-based metrics -- including specialty-specific quality compensation and, for the first time, patient satisfaction compensation.

"Patient satisfaction is a metric that organizations have been tracking, and now are increasingly accounting for as they continue to incorporate value-based metrics into their compensation plans. Our survey reflects that trend," Lord said.

Other key findings from this year's survey include the following:

  • WRVUs remain the most common measure for calculating compensation within physician incentive plans.
  • Value-based metrics are becoming more prevalent within physician compensation plans, with quality being incorporated into 57% of member organizations' plans in 2015 compared to 54% in 2014. Similarly, physicians are being incentivized based on their patient satisfaction scores within 43% of member organizations' compensation plans, up from 38% in 2014.
  • PCPs earned 6.3% of total compensation from quality incentives in 2015, while specialists, on the whole, earned 6.5% for quality incentives. More dollars are being allocated to quality compensation, but at a slower pace than anticipated.
  • The majority of physicians are compensated under variable-based compensation plans; however, only 29% have more than half of their compensation at risk, indicating a trend toward utilizing higher base compensation levels.
  • Benefits expense as a percentage of compensation for physicians decreased in 2015, continuing a trend since 2008. Conversely, benefits expense per FTE and as a percentage of compensation increased for advanced practice clinicians (APCs).

Survey Methodology

ECG's Physician Compensation Survey and Pediatric Subspecialty Physician Compensation Survey analyze and report information from more than 34,000 healthcare providers representing more than 134 physician specialties and 15 provider types across the nation. The surveys contain critical provider performance trends such as physician compensation methodologies, compensation and production benchmarks, primary care panel size, CPT procedure code distributions, physician and APC benefit trends, and additional key performance metrics (e.g., work standards, recruiting/turnover rates by specialty, patient access). This information, coupled with ECG's interpretation of market trends, enables survey members to assess their performance relative to the competitive local market.

ECG's surveys can be accessed via ECGVault, a proprietary online benchmarking website made available exclusively to the 63 member organizations of the 2015 Physician Compensation Survey.

About ECG

ECG is a strategic consulting firm that is leading healthcare forward, using the knowledge and expertise built over the course of four decades to help clients see clearly where healthcare is going and to navigate toward success. We work as trusted, professional partners with hospitals, health systems, medical groups, and academic medical centers across the country. We thrive on delivering smart counsel and pragmatic solutions to the critical challenges facing healthcare providers. Client success is our primary objective. ECG's national presence includes offices in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.

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