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Hospital Expenditures for Physician On-Call Pay Rates Nearly Double

SullivanCotter Releases Results of Fourth Annual Physician On-Call Pay


DETROIT, July 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, Inc. has published its fourth annual survey of physician on-call pay rates and practices, the 2008 Physician On-call Pay Survey Report. The survey report, with data from 132 healthcare organizations nationwide, outlines physician on-call pay practices and rates paid for 33 physician specialty areas along with data reported for trauma centers and non-trauma centers.

Nearly two-thirds of the survey participants report that their physician on-call pay expenditures have increased within the past 12 months. From 2006 to 2008, the median expenditures reported by trauma centers for physician on-call pay have increased by 88%; the median expenditures in non-trauma centers increased by 91%.

The practices vary in terms of how a physician is compensated when called in to provide services. According to Kim Mobley, the survey director and principal of SullivanCotter, "In order to secure the required call coverage, organizations may have to supplement traditional professional fees with subsidies for unassigned/under insured patients, fee-for-service payments, flat hourly rates and malpractice subsidies." These subsidies may also apply to the follow-up care to an unassigned patient.

The majority (86%) of the survey participants report providing on-call pay to non-employed physicians with admitting privileges; about one-half (54%) report providing on-call pay to their employed physicians. The majority (91%) of the survey participants report that the physician on-call pay is funded solely by the hospital; however, eight percent report that the medical group is also providing some of the funding.

Not all physicians receive on-call pay. According to Mobley, another emerging trend is pay for "excess call only", provided only after a specified number of shifts or hours. According to the survey, 21% of the organizations have adopted the policy.

Mobley believes the percent of organizations adopting this approach to physician on-call pay will likely increase in light of the ever increasing on- call pay expenditures. Coupled with the number of specialties requiring on- call pay and the Office of Inspector General's September 2007 Advisory Opinion, which suggested that physician on-call pay should be related to the amount of call provided and the likelihood of being called in, the trend could continue.

The key variables impacting physician on-call pay rates, according to the survey, are the rates of local and national markets, frequency of the call coverage provided, and the likelihood of being called in for service.

The survey identifies a significant variance in the on-call rates paid by specialty; some specialties are far more likely to receive on-call pay than are others. "These data represent national market norms. Local market rates paid to physicians providing call coverage can vary," said Mobley, who notes that on-call pay is still an emerging trend.

She adds, "Some highly compensated specialties receive relatively low on-call rates of pay. These same specialties are often the ones that are not as likely to receive on-call pay. While physician on-call pay is still an evolving market trend, it appears that there is some relationship between the likelihood of being called in to work and the on-call rate paid."

The 2008 Physician On-call Pay Survey is now available for purchase. The cost is $300 for healthcare organizations and $550 for all other types of organizations. To order a copy of the survey, please visit the SullivanCotter website at or contact Ted Tackett, survey coordinator, at 313/ 872-1760, toll-free at 888/739-7039, or email If you would like to participate in SullivanCotter's physician compensation surveys, please email Mr. Tackett.

Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, Inc. specializes in the development and implementation of strategic total compensation and reward programs for the healthcare industry. Since 1992, SullivanCotter has worked closely with healthcare organization executives, boards and compensation committees to devise innovative compensation solutions that attract and retain leadership talent while satisfying not-for-profit missions and regulatory requirements. A leader in independent consulting, benchmarking, trends and analyses, SullivanCotter has also developed the most widely recognized physician and executive compensation surveys in the United States. Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, Inc. has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York, Parsippany, San Francisco and Westport. For more information, visit or call 888-739-7039 toll-free.

SOURCE Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, Inc.
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