10 key trends in 2015 physician compensation — Up 5.1% for specialists

Written by Laura Dyrda | October 21, 2015 | Print  |

ECG Management Consultants released the 2015 Physician Compensation Survey results, noting both primary care physicians and specialists reported higher compensation than 2014 levels.

Here are 10 key trends from the report:

1. Specialist compensation increased 5.1 percent from 2014 to 2015 while work RVUs increased 0.4 percent. Primary care physician compensation was up 2.8 percent.

2. The net effect of the compensation increase and WRVU increase is 0.3 percent higher compensation per WRVU. The WRVU change is a positive trend for physicians, but modest in comparison to gains in recent years.

3. This past year, the investment/loss per physician for integrated health systems was around $194,266 per physicians.

"Health systems are making significant investment 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."

4. WRVUs are still the most common measure for calculating physician compensation within physician incentive plans. However, value-based metrics are becoming more prevalent within those compensation plans.

5. More than half — 57 percent — of the member organizations report having value-based metrics within physician compensation plans. This is up from 54 percent last year.

6. There is a transition toward incentivizing physicians based on patient satisfaction scores. Around 43 percent of the member organizations had patient satisfaction as part of their compensation plans, compared with 38 percent in 2014.

7. Specialists on a whole earned 6.5 percent of total compensation from quality incentives in 2015. There are more dollars allocated to quality compensation this year, but the growth pace is slower than originally anticipated.

"With Medicare targeting over 50 percent 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 reform payment mechanisms as well as organizational strategic and financial goals," said Mr. Lord.

8. Most physicians are compensated under variable-based compensation plans, but only 29 percent have more than half of their compensation at risk. This indicates a trend toward using higher base compensation levels.

9. The benefits expense as a percentage of compensation for physicians was down in 2015 compared with 2008.

10. Benefits expense per FTE and as a percentage of compensation increased for advanced practice clinicians.

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