Don’t let payment reductions lead to a call pay crisis
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a 3.75% cut to Medicare’s payment rates. Combined with other scheduled cuts, this would result in a 9.75% payment reduction in 2022. These cuts will decrease the value of physicians’ services and apply a downward pressure on their income at a time when many practices are still dealing with the financial impact of the pandemic.
Historically, whenever physician income has been reduced, hospital administrators have seen an increase in demands for higher call pay rates. Many hospitals attempt to relieve agitation around call pay with solutions that only make matters worse, both financially and culturally.
MaxWorth’s Call Pay Solution gives administrators an alternative to the traditional approach to call pay that benefits both physicians and their organizations.
The need for a call pay solution, then and now
When MaxWorth first created the Call Pay Solution, on-call compensation was one of the most contentious topics in healthcare. Administrators understood that it would be difficult to stop paying for call once they started, and that call pay rates would continue to rise as paying for call became more common. Meanwhile, physicians were being asked to do more for less. Declining reimbursements, increased volume, increased liability, and increased regulations all exasperated the issue and added to physicians’ frustrations.
Today, most of our conversations with clients are about how much, not if, a specialty is getting paid. Even though call pay is common now, it’s still a source of contention at many organizations, and we expect to see more conflict arise in the coming year as payment reductions take effect and physicians continue to see the pandemic’s impact on practice revenue.
The pitfalls of the traditional approach
Hospitals typically negotiate with specialties one at a time and behind closed doors. Unfortunately, this often leads to medical staff division and erodes trust between staff and administration. Single-specialty negotiations, as well as a variety of other solutions, often become a financial liability for hospitals as the cost of call pay continues to rise over time. It has never been more important, especially for organizations that are struggling to maintain their financial viability, to find a solution that’s sustainable over the long term.
How MaxWorth can help
Our Call Pay Solution creates a platform for physician participation by establishing a Physicians’ Call Committee. The committee is made up of representatives from a wide range of specialties. Over the course of 4, two-hour sessions, they work to establish a fairness standard for call pay rates. This standard is based on each specialty’s relative call burden taking into account criteria such as the frequency and intensity of their unassigned call.
The result of the committee’s work is a set of recommendations that is presented to the medical staff and then to administration for approval. These recommendations will include a list of specialties the committee believes should be paid for call and the suggested per diem rate for each.
By bringing everyone to the table, the Physicians’ Call Committee creates alignment, fairness, inclusion, and transparency, which are the essential elements of an effective approach to call compensation.
Ongoing due diligence
After their initial work, the call committee continues to meet periodically to review the call pay program and recommend any necessary adjustments to administration. Entrusting physicians with this ongoing work will lend consistency and reliability to the program in the face of any changes that might come in terms of hospital or executive leadership. It also ensures that the program will continue to meet the needs of the medical staff and administration for years to come.
If you would like to explore the next steps we could take to create a version of the Call Pay Solution that’s tailored to your organization’s unique needs and goals, let’s set aside a time for a brief conference call.
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