The Call Pay Crisis: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

The Call Pay Crisis: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

By: Steve Worthy, Managing Partner 

In 2005, Dr. Tom Oliver was serving as president of medical staff at Winchester Medical Center in Virginia. On the most memorable day of his tenure, a surgical specialty made an announcement. After a certain date, they would no longer be taking call without compensation. At the time, the hospital’s CEO had stated that he would categorically refuse to pay for call. Just like that, the hospital was on the brink of a crisis and in danger of losing a service line in the emergency department.


Avoid the ultimatum


MaxWorth was able to help the administration and medical staff at Winchester arrive at an appropriate solution for their hospital, but it certainly could have gone the other way. We believe it is imperative for healthcare organizations to take preventative measures and make sure they are never faced with a similar ultimatum that could threaten their viability. Prevention will greatly increase the possibility of a positive outcome and help ensure financial stability for healthcare organizations.


The pitfall of single-specialty negotiations


When crisis is inevitable, the alternative to prevention is reaction. The typical reaction to a call pay crisis is to enter into single-specialty negotiations, which result in cash stipends. These arrangements place the hospital in a dangerous position. They are often perceived as unfair and secretive, which divides the medical staff and further agitates the issue of call pay. They also create more questions than they answerWhich specialties should be compensated? How much should they be paid? How should they be paid? How will those not being paid react?—and the hospital cannot provide answers.


Sending a positive message


When our clients announce that a nationally recognized call compensation design firm has been retained, it sends a positive message to all stakeholders that leadership is moving forward in a systematic way to create a comprehensive solution that is fair and defensible.

At the conclusion of our process, every member of the medical staff will understand how and why the specialties were selected to be included in the call pay program and how the per diems were determined. This establishes a sense of fairness, transparency, and inclusion that is simply not possible when going about it in the typical way. In other words, we help hospitals avoid the coming crisis so they never have to react to one.


Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Tom Oliver about his experience. 



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