Value-based surgery physician compensation model: Review of the literature


Background: In recent history, healthcare payment reform and legislative initiatives have drastically altered the practice environment for many physicians. Individual providers have migrated from self-managed smaller practices toward employed positions with larger entities, in which provider productivity is tracked. In academic institutions, surgical departments are tasked with meeting clinical productivity metrics while maintaining research and education missions. The objective was to review the current literature regarding the status of physician compensation.

Methods: A narrative review of the literature with a defined search strategy using Pubmed and MEDLINE was performed. Using keywords of physician reimbursement, physician compensation, performance-based incentives, relative value unit, RVU, searches were completed and subsequently reviewed by the authors for inclusion. Subsequently, all review articles had their included studies hand searched by the research team and any relevant articles were included in our review.

Results: In total, fifteen papers were deemed to meet inclusion criteria. Articles were then divided into 7 domains (Origins of the Work Relative Value Unit, Adjusting for Clinical Complexity, Alternative Compensation Strategies, Aligning Compensation with Department Goals, Individual versus Group Incentives, Minimizing Complexity, Maximize Efficiency, Minimize Loss).

Conclusion: As external powers continue to apply pressure to surgeon compensation, leaders have had to increasingly focus on clinical productivity, while the missions of research and education become more neglected. One solution could be the development of metrics to best align incentives for clinical, research, and education activities with institutional goals.



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