Physician Incentives Go Beyond the Paycheck, Finds New Survey

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Want to attract good physicians to your practice and retain them? Make part-time scheduling and flexible workweeks part of the incentives mix, recommends a new survey on physician retention trends.

Close to half of female physicians and 22 percent of male physicians — are reported to be working part-time, according to the results of a 2011 survey by Cejka Search and the American Medical Groups Association (AMGA).

According to the survey, female physicians entering the workforce and male physicians approaching retirement — the two fastest growing populations in the physician workforce — are the most likely groups to look for part-time and flexible scheduling options.

Flexible work options are apparently key to physician retention: 75 percent of groups offer a four-day full-time work week.

Respondents were less certain about the evolution of performance-based incentives, according to these survey findings:

  • Pay structures and incentives have changed in the past five years to focus on outcomes for quality, efficiency and satisfaction, yet the survey found no clear indicators show a consensus about the role of incentives toward these outcomes.
  • About half the survey respondents indicated that primary care physicians are incented “somewhat more” or “significantly more” for both quality (52%) and satisfaction (50%) than they were five years ago.
  • Incentives to achieve efficiency will need to become more compelling: 44 percent of respondents think that driving changes in practice efficiency outcomes would require incentive compensation of at least 10 percent.
  • In contrast, respondents believe that incentive compensation of less than 5 percent will drive desired quality and satisfaction outcomes.About75 percent of groups offer a four-day full-time work week.

For the first time, survey results include staffing and turnover benchmarks for both advanced practitioners and physician staffing:

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents from the 2011 survey reported that the involvement of advanced practitioners in their groups has grown “somewhat” or “significantly” in the past five years. This response increases to 75 percent when looking ahead toward the next five years. The respondents also indicated that they identified 21 percent and 13 percent growth in new positions, respectively, for physician assistants and nurse practitioners in their groups in the past twelve months.

The survey also found that the turnover rate for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants is 12.6 percent.

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