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Physician per diem rates up 5% in 2016, MD Ranger survey finds

Total hospital payments for direction and other administrative service payments also grew almost 25 percent year over year.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Physician payments rates are on the rise across the United States, according to a national compensation survey released Friday by from MD Ranger.

The 2015-2016 data found that per diem payment rates for call coverage services grew at an average of 5 percent over the previous year. And though hourly rates for administrative services remained flat, the annual cost of administrative contracts grew 7 percent, driven by increases in hours worked.

A hospital's payment for access to physicians providing call coverage, on-call pay, has continued to increase over the past several years, according to research by consulting firm Sullivan, Cotter and Associates. On-call pay expenditures have also increased, rendering it important from a strategic, financial and regulatory perspective to properly structure physician on-call pay arrangements, the firm said.

[Also: Healthcare executive compensation up 8 percent in 2014, study finds]

Meanwhile, MD Ranger found that total hospital payments for direction and other administrative service payments grew almost 25 percent year over year, while total call coverage payments remained flat.

There were several physician services that experienced changes, such as obstetric hospitalists and laborists. MD Ranger saw growth in both the number and cost of their programs; there was a 25 percent increase in annual payments, excluding medical direction. That brought the median payment to $800,000.

Cardiology saw changes as well. Both the scope and cost of cardiology-related coverage and direction contracts increased; services include STEMI, cath lab, rehab, non-interventional, cardiac anesthesia, and heart centers.

Neurology and infection control were also highlighted. Neurology-related coverage and direction contracts increased, even at small and rural hospitals, fueled by the growth in neuro-interventional stroke-related services and telemedicine contracts. As for Infectious disease-related services, they're evolving, with a variety of antibiotic stewardship, directorships and coverage agreements, MD Ranger found.

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The group said many of these changes are related to the growing number of quality, outcomes and pay-for-performance-related initiatives driven by regulatory and accreditation organizations.

The survey is based on more than 250 benchmarks that are reported for call coverage, medical direction, medical staff leadership, diagnostic testing, clinical professional services and hospital-based physician services. Benchmarks are derived from a database of more than 24,000 contracts from hospitals, medical groups, dialysis centers, specialty and long-term care providers. Organizations use these benchmarks to negotiate agreements, set budgets, and document regulatory compliance.

Twitter: @JELagasse