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Physician Contract Negotiations: Use Call Tracking to Maximize Your Position

Whether your hospital employs physicians to supply specialty on-call coverage or contracts with group practices, fair market value of the services provided is the cornerstone of effective contract negotiations. Fair market value determinations also keep hospitals in compliance with federal regulations. As such, hospitals need to define FMV consistently across physician contracts, determine FMV benchmarks for a given contract, and document the basis for FMV for each physician contract.

Physician On-Call Payments Impact the Bottom Line

According to a SullivanCotter survey, physician on-call pay represents an increasing percentage of hospitals’ and health systems’ net revenue, nearly doubling from 1.8 percent to 3.3 percent over three years. While more than a third of facilities include contract provisions requiring some doctors to work a designated number of on-call shifts or on-call hours each month before receiving supplemental payments, more than half report having trouble getting call coverage for specialties like neurosurgery, gastroenterology, otolaryngology, and trauma surgery. All told, about three out of every four on-call physicians are paid either an hourly rate or a stipend for on-call shifts.

In a report on on-call pay trends, SullivanCotter notes that physician on-call payments aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. While 37 percent of facilities pay only for call shifts beyond the contracted number of shifts per month, more than a quarter offer concurrent call coverage, enabling the physician to be on call at more than one hospital. Another quarter provide on-call pay when the call is activated or when a procedure is performed. And, one in five remunerate on-call telemedicine consultations.

The Role of Call Tracking in Physician Contract Negotiations

Because federal regulations require that physicians be paid fair market value, it’s important to know how frequently an on-call physician is contacted by your facility. While word-of-mouth might communicate a high call frequency – “I get called a half dozen times every Friday night!” – automated call tracking can pinpoint the inaccuracy of such a claim. Similarly, the number of physicians in a call group can impact the number of times an individual doctor is called. For example, SullivanCotter found that there were an average of 11 physicians in hospital-based call rotations and 6.5 for surgical on-call rotations. Having accurate data for your facility at the ready can paint a realistic picture of what’s expected. Likewise, because some specialties are more in demand than others, having usage metrics for each specialty in your facility can be helpful in determining fair market value and the value of the contract you’re negotiating.

Additional Call Tracking Benefits

Call tracking is crucial for physician contract negotiations, but its benefits don’t end there. For example, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires that every patient’s emergency medical condition must be resolved or the patient must be stabilized. Automated call tracking documents attempts to contact on-call physicians who can deliver necessary patient care, and thus assists with EMTALA compliance initiatives. In addition, it can quickly identify physicians who are being paid for concurrent on-call shifts outside of the scopes of their contracts, as well as on-call physicians who are unresponsive to calls.

If you don’t have a handle on the number of calls and the call pattern in your facility, then you’re at a disadvantage. MDsyncNET’s cloud-based physician communication software includes a robust Call Tracking feature that ensures real-time call accuracy, calculates call cycle metrics, and exports records to support audit and compliance initiatives.

MDsyncNET is a leading provider of cloud-based hospital communication software. To learn how MDsyncNET can help automate your call tracking processes, call 888-508-5061.

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