Employment, alignment, and the surgical specialist

Post 1.7.2020

The rise in physician employment has been well documented. Now the trend is spreading to surgical specialists. Illustrating this shift, a recent survey found that employment has risen 25% among orthopedic surgeons in the past year. In the same survey, 48% of respondents stated they did not feel valued by their organizations. As we’ve discussed, employment does not guarantee medical staff alignment. While there are many factors that contribute to alignment, we believe that the strategic use of compensation can be an organization’s secret weapon.

 

In our experience, a balanced program that combines short-term and long-term rewards is effective in supporting most organizations’ employment goals. A balanced program is particularly effective due to its flexible nature. Capitalizing on this flexibility, it’s possible to design a program that communicates an organization’s appreciation for its staff members, which helps improve alignment. In order to do this, it’s important to offer benefits that account for physicians’ unique financial situation. Compensation practices that are common in other industries are not always sufficient for physician employees. This is especially true of specialists who have been in private practice for many years given their need for creative retirement planning strategies. Compensation packages that only utilize salary and qualified retirement plans cannot account for this need. And most administrators know that more money is not necessarily the answer. The way compensation is structured, however, can enhance its impact. When organizations choose to utilize a design that enhances the impact of its compensation, it makes physicians feel valued. 

 

In addition to creating value for employed physicians’, a balanced rewards program can also support alignment by encouraging physicians to become more invested in organizational goals. This is achieved by linking compensation to an organization’s top priorities. To focus on improving retention, for example, you can link compensation to at-risk, long-term rewards. To focus on attraction, you can emphasize guaranteed, short-term rewards. Compensation can even be used as a tool to improve an organization’s quality of care. With the help of our strategic partner network, our clients are able to analyze revenue by provider and compare provider productivity relative to patient complexity. This enables them to reward productivity and performance, which ultimately results in improvement in these areas. In fact, improvement in productivity often offsets the cost of additional bonuses and rewards.

 

As physician employment continues to rise, it’s important for healthcare organizations to think strategically about compensation. Our programs are designed to improve medical staff alignment by enhancing the value of physician rewards and positioning staff members behind an organization’s most pressing goals. 

 

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