Rural hospitals pay the most for physicians. It’s time for smarter rewards

By: Leah Worthy


Becker’s Hospital Review recently published a list of states with the highest average compensation rates for physicians and surgeons. Six of the top ten states on this list have populations under two million. This tells us that, under the pressure of increased competition for physicians, rural hospitals find themselves in the position of having to pay more than their large-market competitors to attract doctors to their organizations. This places financial strain on these facilities and could even threaten their financial viability. At a time when smaller hospitals are being acquired by nearby metropolitan facilities or simply going out of business altogether, it has never been more important for these hospitals to find creative ways to offer better rewards.


MaxWorth designs compensation and benefit programs to attract and retain physician talent while driving revenue and reducing expenses.  


Typical physician compensation packages include salaries and qualified retirement plans. They might also include RVUs, signing bonuses, and/or a form of income guarantee. These elements usually satisfy the needs of employees outside of healthcare, but alone, they are not sufficient for physician employees. That’s why we offer physicians a more balanced rewards suite of at-risk, short-term bonuses and long-term rewards through our Physician Employment Strategies.


A balanced rewards suite also benefits a hospital since it can be used to distinguish an organization in the marketplace, making it easier to attract top talent without jeopardizing the bottom line. It also improves physician retention, as doctors are less likely to leave a facility that’s offering them long-term rewards.


A hospital also benefits from the ability to link rewards to organizational objectives like improved quality and/or productivity. When properly designed, bonuses and rewards can be offset through improvements in revenue and productivity, cost controls, and funding vehicles, enhancing the sustainability of the compensation program. When physician rewards are linked to a hospital’s goals, this aligns the medical staff with administration and unifies their efforts around shared objectives.


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