Advanced Practice Provider Leadership Structures

The Evolution of a Well-Defined Advanced Practive Provider Leadership Structure

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Featured in AAPL's Physician Leadership Journal

Advanced practice provider leadership is critical to the optimization of the growing APP workforce.

COVID-19 has accelerated the financial and operational challenges facing the health care industry and organizations are reevaluating current processes and structures. As a result of this pandemic, some health systems and medical groups are planning for an increasingly uncertain future. These changes have also presented the opportunity to design more effective care delivery models, right-size cost structures, and streamline organizational processes to enhance financial sustainability going forward.

Prior to the pandemic, many hospitals and health systems had begun to prioritize the integration, optimization and engagement of their advanced practice provider (APP) workforce as a strategy to enhance organizational performance and support the transition to value-based care. In response to COVID-19, many organizations are utilizing their APPs to support operations. This has, in many cases, helped to accelerate the optimization of these clinicians.

As one of the fastest-growing workforces in health care, APPs constitute, on average, more than one-third of an organization’s clinical workforce. APP leaders are critical to the organization and optimization of this workforce. The presence of a well-defined advanced practice provider leadership structure can drive organizational performance and support a comprehensive APP workforce strategy – which can help to improve access, increase revenue and reduce costs. Understanding the evolution of APP leadership positions at the top, clinical, managerial and functional levels, along with their different roles and responsibilities, can serve as a roadmap for organizations as they continue to build out and develop their own APP structures and programs.


Population Health

Case Study | Union Health – Population Health Management

Improving Patient Care and Optimizing Financial Performance

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As health care continues to shift from productivity and fee-for-service models to more of a quality and performance-based approach, value-based care (VBC) strategies, including population health management (PHM) programs, are becoming a top priority for health care systems across the nation. Leaders within these organizations are searching for more effective and sustainable solutions as they navigate declining reimbursement, regulatory changes, physician burnout and the need for better patient care and lower costs.

These challenges can be addressed with a tailored PHM strategy that supports organizational improvement in the following key areas:

  • Maximizing operational processes and outcomes
  • Developing a support network for physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs)
  • Mitigating risk
  • Enhancing performance in a value-based environment

By identifying actionable and targeted opportunities for improvement through a series of evaluations and readiness assessments, Union Health, an integrated, not-for-profit health system based in western Indiana, was able to develop comprehensive VBC and PHM strategies better aligned with their patient-focused approach to coordinated care.

The Situation

As a six-year participant in a local, tertiary accountable care organization (ACO), Union Health had fully outsourced its operational leadership to the parent ACO member. This legacy partnership and arrangement was simply not producing the desired results from a clinical, operational or financial perspective for Union Health – with data and analytics, physician engagement, embedded care management and post-acute care spend being specific areas of concern. Around 2018, Union Health was at a strategic crossroads in regard to its investment in VBC initiatives as the PHM program was not generating the desired results.

This highlighted the need to more effectively integrate operations across departments and service lines, align incentives for leadership and physicians, and reallocate related resources. At the same time, many competing health systems in Indiana were already realizing the benefits of a highly functional PHM program. The leadership at Union Health recognized the key to success would be through a more consistent approach, improved internal processes and engaged leadership.

The organization decided to narrow its focus by strengthening internal capabilities around care management, physician engagement, analytics and reporting to help ensure greater levels of risk-based contracting success with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other commercial payors.

The Approach

In late 2018, Union Health was presented with an opportunity to partner and align with a nationally recognized health system in a more advanced Next Generation ACO. A Next Generation ACO model offers more risk and reward (both upside and downside risk scenarios) for health systems who already have highly functional internal capabilities in place to support performance. These models represent some of the most advanced value-based arrangements and require greater system-wide operational sophistication. Union Health was looking for a hands-on approach to align initiatives and ensure success.

In order to assess internal operational capabilities, physician and advanced practice provider engagement levels, incentive models and other key functional areas related to VBC, senior leadership at Union Health collaborated closely with SullivanCotter to help quantify this opportunity. After conducting a comprehensive VBC readiness assessment, which included a close examination of the program’s core functional areas such as partnerships, utilization management, attribution and chronic disease management, Union Health elected to partner with the larger health system who had already demonstrated greater success in the Next Generation ACO model. Moreover, Union Health committed to this arrangement for a minimum of two years to support the development of a strong VBC program. Health systems across the country often partner and align with other systems or independent groups to help mitigate risk and better manage overall cost.

SullivanCotter’s primary role with Union Health was to develop and implement an independent PHM program that would help to improve risk-based contracting performance. The program focused on five core principle areas:

  • Annual care
  • Risk acuity
  • Utilization management
  • Care management
  • Incentive alignment

With these principles in mind and a significant amount of physician and APP input and collaboration, the design of the system’s VBC strategy and approach included the following phases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help implement the multi-phased strategy, a task force consisting of Union Health’s executive team and leaders in Business Development, Population Health Management, Physician Services, Utilization Management and Care Management was created to help oversee the process. The initial phase of the project consisted of in-depth interviews with physicians and stakeholders, a thorough review of data and performance metrics, and an operational Readiness Assessment. Key findings from this phase revealed:

  • Low engagement from physicians, APPs and other staff with annual care and preventative medicine strategies
  • Significant lack of Care Management resources and coordination such as outpatient pharmacy support, discharge planning and risk stratification
  • Limited definition of roles and responsibilities for Care Management and Operations team members specific to VBC and PHM
  • Insufficient value-based data resources such as reporting capabilities, quality dashboards and clarity surrounding key performance indicators
  • Lack of clarity in the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and physician assistants in current team-based care model
  • Physician and APP compensation and incentives were not aligned with VBC strategies and initiatives; no incentive for physicians and APPs to enhance value-based performance
  • The CMS benchmark or threshold was not met in the contract in order to achieve shared savings – resulting in negative financial impact and poor contract performance

Using the findings from this readiness assessment, SullivanCotter helped executives and physicians at Union Health to further develop a roadmap for the Program Development and Implementation phase.

Roadmap initiatives included the development of:

  • Physician and APP educational and engagement materials for workshop sessions
  • Clearly defined roles and scope of practice for nurse practitioners and physician assistants in primary care
  • Outpatient-focused clinical capacity analysis to support Care Management
  • Comprehensive annual care strategy focused on prevention and wellness
  • VBC Management team to monitor performance and contract relationships
  • Physician and APP incentive components to enhance VBC and PHM
  • Standardized dashboards for the entire care team
  • Post-acute care strategies more closely aligned with Care Management
  • Strategies to monitor ongoing performance

Once the initial components of the roadmap were deployed, the task force worked with SullivanCotter to begin the planning process for two remaining phases within in the PHM model: Physician and APP Incentive Alignment and Performance Review and Monitoring. These processes were also implemented and rolled out during PHM program development and focused on monitoring and enhancing performance in all value-based contracts.

The work accomplished in these two phases included:

  • Population health metrics related to annual care, preventative screenings, vaccinations, utilization management, Care Management team engagement and risk-adjustment
  • Value-based compensation design concepts and continued education provided to physicians and APPs
  • Regular monthly huddles with Care Management team members to review patient volume
  • A risk stratification process to determine appropriate care levels for patients
  • Physician and APP interviews for feedback and evaluation
  • Physician and APP engagement scoring and methodology
  • Refinement of key performance indicators
  • Development and rollout of physician and APP performance dashboard

The Results

Through the investment in and development of the PHM program and other related VBC initiatives, Union Health was able to achieve the following results over a 12-month period:

  • Achieved significant shared savings in year one of the Next Generation ACO as compared to historical performance with improvement of over $6M
  • Reduced per member per month spend compared to prior year by 12%
  • Implemented a newly redesigned approach to primary care by focusing on team-based care delivery
  • Increased the number of completed and billed Medicare Annual Wellness Visits (AWV) from 900 to 5900 with AWV revenue up from approximately $150,000 to $944,000
  • Raised the number of documented Care Management team episodes by more than 200%
  • Lowered number of emergency room visits in the Next Generation ACO population that were deemed “PCP treatable”
  • Documented more than 100 Care Management success stories
  • Boosted the clinical diagnosis documentation rate by more than 20%
  • Enhanced coordination with post-acute care partners and facilities to help reduce total cost of care for ACO patients by 11%
  • Conducted regular meetings and monthly Care Management huddles to enhance physician and APP engagement with knowledge of VBC and PHM concepts and monitoring of individual performance
  • Initiated strategic planning to redesign primary care and other specialty compensation models with a focus on performance and value

Tips for Successful VBC/PHM Program Implementation

  • Assign dedicated resources to care team optimization
  • Collaborate with and gather input from physicians and APPs to strengthen engagement and buy-in
  • Align physician and APP incentives to help streamline and reward clinical efforts
  • Establish achievable milestones to maintain momentum and engagement
  • Conduct regular key stakeholder meetings to provide updates on progress, celebrate successes and course-correct as needed

Lessons Learned

Despite the many factors that differentiate health systems, such as organizational size, complexity, or the communities they serve, there are a common set of fundamental guiding principles and success factors that can be tailored to each organizations’ VBC and PHM strategies.

Union Health’s multi-phase approach – including Readiness Assessment, Program Development and Implementation, Physician and APP Incentive Alignment, and Performance Review and Monitoring – has proven to be an effective way of improving overall performance through the creation of comprehensive VBC and PHM strategies.

Dedicated to enhancing internal capabilities, resources and value-based performance with the objective of improving population health, Union Health partnered with SullivanCotter to develop a long-term, sustainable strategy and implement a comprehensive program to help to improve access and health outcomes for its patients, strengthen physician and APP engagement, and significantly boost financial performance.


Leveraging data-driven insights and over 25 years of experience, SullivanCotter partners with organizations to develop comprehensive value-based care and population health management strategies tailored to the unique needs of each client.

Contact us for more information.


INFOGRAPHIC | Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists: Compensation and Pay Practices

Detailed insight into CRNA compensation, pay practices, work effort and more

In addition to providing critical base salary and total cash compensation benchmarking information for this important subset of the APP workforce, SullivanCotter’s Advanced Practice Provider Compensation and Productivity Survey has now expanded to include detailed insight into CRNA-specific pay practices as well.

While CRNAs are vital members of this growing workforce, the unique nature of their roles includes key differences in work effort and premium pay practices when compared to other APPs.

View highlights from the 2020 survey results to learn more!

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WEBINAR | The Impact of the Changing Health Care Environment on Primary Care

Is your organization struggling to address the impact of COVID-19, changes to the Stark Law and updates to the Physician Fee Schedule?

Tuesday, April 27 |  10-11am CT

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Hosted by the American Association of Provider Compensation Professionals (AAPCP)

Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the changing reimbursement environment and transition to value-based care were impacting primary care compensation design and pay practices. Today, as health care organizations nationwide are navigating an increasingly complex operating environment, COVID-19 continues to place pressure on financial sustainability, patient access and population health management.

Combined with changes to the Physician Self-Referral Law (Stark) and updates to the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule and Evaluation & Management CPT codes, health care organizations are rapidly engaging in the redesign of their primary care compensation programs.

During this session, SullivanCotter will highlight relevant market trends impacting contemporary primary care compensation design and discuss evolving plan methodologies and approaches as organizations plan for the future.


ON-DEMAND WEBINAR | Optimize Clinical Resources to Support Population Health Management

Understanding the Strategic Impact of a Physician Needs Assessment

Wednesday, May 19 | 12:30-1:30PM CT

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Hosted by the American Hospital Association/Health Forum

Access to market-specific physician supply and demand data is critical as hospitals and health systems look to support growth, enhance value-based care delivery, and reassess cost and efficiency concerns.

Health care organizations must identify the right amount and type of physician specialties to operate effectively in the markets they serve with the goals of optimizing clinical performance as the focus on value-based care and population health management intensifies.

Learn how accurate and actionable data-driven insight can help hospitals and health systems to identify, monitor and respond to changing service needs and physician and advanced practice provider (APP) staffing requirements. Decide strategically whether to recruit, employ or affiliate to create a competitive edge in today’s rapidly evolving health care environment.

During this webinar, industry experts from SullivanCotter will discuss:

  • Partnering with Union Health on strategies to support expanded value-based care and population health management requirements
  • Evaluating the market-specific drivers that influence physician demand
  • Accurately pinpointing employed and affiliated market physicians by specialty
  • Leading practices and innovative approaches to inform physician strategy and alignment efforts to enhance performance
  • Creating a competitive edge by optimizing clinical resources

Case Study | The Key Role of Advanced Practice Providers in Today's New Normal

Featuring Stanford Health Care's Strategy to Heighten APP Integration and Engagement

As health care organizations nationwide continue to balance managing the immediate implications of the COVID-19 pandemic with planning for what lies ahead, many are looking to optimize team-based care delivery to help address emerging operational challenges, maintain financial sustainability, and meet evolving patient needs.

With the ability to direct patient care and generate revenue, advanced practice providers (APPs) are critical members of the care team and can play an important role in this transformation.

Featuring a case study published in AAPL's Physician Leadership Journal, learn more about how SullivanCotter partnered with Stanford Health Care to develop a comprehensive strategy and program to maximize utilization, support optimization and enhance engagement for its growing APP workforce.

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HFMA | Navigating Change: Implications of CMS's 2021 Physician Fee Schedule

Addressing the impact on physician compensation and productivity

Featured in HFMA's hfm Magazine, SullivanCotter discusses changes to the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule and highlights challenges health care organizations and their financial leaders are facing as they look to address the impact on physician and advanced practice provider compensation and productivity.

Due to the magnitude of the changes within the final rule for the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule, organizations with productivity-based physician compensation plans must understand the implications of these changes and on payer payments, productivity levels, survey benchmarks and regulatory compliance.

Learn more about the short- and long-term impact of the changes and different approaches to consider as you move forward with 2021 compensation decisions.

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INFOGRAPHIC | 2020 Advanced Practice Provider Compensation and Pay Practices Survey

Representing nearly 20% of all practicing APPs nationwide

Advanced practice provider (APP) compensation programs are shifting to address changing market dynamics and mitigate the financial implications of COVID-19. Considering the current impact of the pandemic, the 2020 survey represents the best data reference point for use in the near future and can serve as a foundation for understanding specialty market positioning leading into COVID-19, pinpointing areas of focus for targeted compensation adjustments, and assisting with post-pandemic budget and productivity planning.

SullivanCotter’s 2020 APP Compensation and Pay Practices Survey contains data from nearly 700 organizations on over 84,500 individual APPs and represents nearly 20% of all practicing APPs nationwide. New in 2020, the survey now also reports expanded work effort data for specialty-based APPs, CRNA-specific pay practices and additional productivity data.

The 2021 survey is now open for participation. Don't miss your chance to submit data and gain access to exclusive APP compensation, pay practices and productivity data!

View highlights from the 2020 results to learn more - including base salary and total cash compensation, incentive compensation, premium pay and clinical productivity.

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INFOGRAPHIC | Benchmarking Resources for the Medical Group Workforce

Gain access to critical medical group benchmarking data for the entire health care workforce - including executives, physicians, advanced practice providers and other health care staff

This year more than ever, medical groups require access to critical data-driven insights as they look to address the impact of COVID-19 on workforce compensation and productivity, prepare for the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule changes, and balance the need for competitive total reward programs against pressure on operating margins.

Learn more about SullivanCotter’s growing suite of medical group benchmarking resources for all your workforce needs – including annual compensation data and incentive award opportunities for executives, detailed productivity reporting for physicians and advanced practice providers, and market data by organization size, region, state and more for other health care staff positions.

Our suite of 2021 health care compensation surveys are now open for participation! 

View highlights from the 2020 results to learn more about SullivanCotter's proprietary benchmarking data and resources available to medical groups.

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INFOGRAPHIC | 2020 Physician On-Call and Telemedicine Compensation Survey

One-of-a-kind survey providing rare insight into physician call-pay and telemedicine practices

As clinical care settings and practices continue to change in a rapidly evolving health care environment, many organizations are expanding or evaluating their physician on-call and telemedicine programs.

Designing effective arrangements to support this demand is critical, and starts with gaining access to the right data.

With nearly 300 participating organizations providing information on approximately 3,100 individual call contracts, this survey provides hospitals and health systems with the data they need to help address complex call pay issues, understand emerging trends in telemedicine, negotiate contracts and evaluate physician fair market value.

The 2020 survey report is now available for purchase! View highlights from the results to learn more.

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ARTICLE | 10 Best Practices for the Board's Human Capital Committee

Featured in McDermott Will & Emery's new e-book from its Governing Health series

SullivanCotter's Kathy Hastings, Executive Workforce Practice Leader, and Tim Cotter, Manging Director, have contributed to a new e-book from McDermott Will & Emery entitled Key Agenda Items for Board Committees: A Briefing for Governance and Executive Leadership.

Their chapter focuses on the board human capital committee and the key role it plays in guiding human resources strategies as health care organizations face today's challenges. Human capital is critical to organizational strategy, and the committee should test whether the components of the human capital strategy – namely people, process and technology practices – can sustain the organization.

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INFOGRAPHIC | 2020 Endowment and Foundation Investment Staff Compensation Survey

Featuring data from more than 50 not-for-profit organizations nationwide

This survey offers a comprehensive look into compensation and pay practices for investment staff positions among college and university endowments, private foundations, health care and other not-for-profit organizations. It also includes detailed insight into the chief investment officer position.

View highlights from the 2020 results, including average year-over-year increase in base salary for key investment positions, incentive compensation as a percentage of salary for the chief investment officer position, and investment office size by asset category.

Don't miss your chance to participate - the 2021 survey is now open! The final deadline to submit is February 26, 2021.

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Understanding Co-Management Arrangements

Key drivers, compensation structures and payouts, and performance metrics and target setting

As health care continues to shift its focus from volume to value, hospitals are implementing strategies to help strengthen hospital-physician alignment. Co-management arrangements are contractual agreements between hospitals and physicians that establish shared responsibility for particular service lines. These agreements are commonly structured with an even split between both base and incentive compensation components. Base compensation is tied to the number of management service hours required to fulfill baseline duties, while incentive compensation is linked to strategic performance measures.

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INFOGRAPHIC | 2020 Health Care Staff Compensation Survey

Key considerations for the health care employee workforce during COVID-19 and through 2021 and beyond

Employee compensation programs are shifting to address changing market dynamics and mitigate the financial implications of COVID-19. Considering the current impact of the pandemic, the 2020 survey benchmarks represent the best data reference point for use in the near future.

Organizations have been impacted by the pandemic to varying degrees, so it is important that each organization analyzes their unique circumstances when utilizing this market data. Applying a holistic approach will allow each organization to consider future changes that are the best fit for their situation rather than an industry best practice.

SullivanCotter’s 2020 Health Care Staff Compensation Survey contains data from nearly 1,200 organizations on approximately 1,194,900 individual employees.

The 2021 survey is now open for participation!

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PRESS RELEASE | Annual results from SullivanCotter's Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey

Physician Compensation Programs Shifting to Address Changing Market Dynamics and Mitigate COVID-19 Financial Implications

November 11, 2020 – Chicago – SullivanCotter, the nation’s leading independent consulting firm in the assessment and development of total rewards programs, workforce solutions, and technology and data products for the health care industry and not-for-profit sector, recently released results from the 2020 Physician Compensation and Productivity Surveywhich represents data from more than 800 organizations on nearly 244,000 individual physicians and advanced practice providers. The results reflect calendar year 2019 and, as the last set of benchmark data available prior to the onset of COVID-19, this year’s survey will serve as an important resource for organizations needing pre-pandemic compensation reference points for this critical workforce.

“Although the pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty – with many organizations making near-term modifications to their physician compensation programs as a result – we’re seeing a slow and steady adjustment to the ‘new normal’ as patient volumes have returned to approximately 90% of pre-COVID-19 levels. In some ways, the fallout from COVID-19 has simply accelerated the forces that were driving physician compensation changes prior to the pandemic, and the 2020 survey data will be very important in helping to determine how organizations are responding to these challenges,” said Tim Stamper, Senior Consultant, SullivanCotter.

Physician Total Cash Compensation (TCC)

While TCC has grown, on average, 2.5% annually since 2012, COVID-19-related reductions in surgical and non-emergent care have impacted the financial condition of many health care organizations nationwide – causing them to implement or consider a number of compensation and benefits-related modifications to help offset significant losses in revenue. According to SullivanCotter’s COVID-19 Physician and Advanced Practice Provider Compensation Practices Survey series, nearly 30% of participants had implemented or were considering pay reductions for front line physicians and nearly 40% of participants were doing the same for non-front line physicians as of May 2020. Median pay cuts were 11% and 15% for front line and non-front line physicians respectively. Other organizations made cuts in physician benefits in response to COVID-19. The most common benefit program changes in 2020 included eliminating or reducing retirement plan contributions, adjustments to PTO policies, and eliminating or reducing CME allowances. The majority of these actions were intended to be temporary and, as patient volumes continue to increase and organizations start to recover financially, many are returning to historical pay and benefits practices.

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, physician incentive programs have also come under scrutiny in 2020. Among respondents surveyed in May, 16% of organizations reported eliminating or reducing non-productivity incentive compensation in 2020 while an additional 38% were considering this action. Many organizations pay out these incentives at year-end, making these programs an obvious target for cost-reduction.

Physician Productivity

The 2020 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey results continue to show a trend of flat or even declining median work RVU (wRVU) productivity across all major specialty categories. Since TCC showed modest increases in the 2020 survey, TCC per wRVU ratios have also increased. While we have anticipated growth in value-based incentives, wRVUs and productivity-based incentives still determine the majority of incentive or variable compensation as a percentage of TCC. Approximately 70% of organizations utilize wRVUs to determine compensation for primary care and specialist physicians, with wRVU productivity accounting for about 18% of TCC in plans with a base salary component and over 90% of TCC in plans without a base salary component. Less than half (44%) of organizations surveyed include a wRVU component for hospital-based physicians, who are instead paid primarily on base salary and shift-based models.

As organizations focus their attention on maintaining patient access and minimizing the financial losses created by COVID-19, the emphasis on individual wRVU productivity will remain prominent. While the pandemic itself has had a sizable impact on patient volumes and physician productivity, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed changes to the Evaluation & Management wRVU values loom large as organizations look ahead to 2021. These adjustments include an increase in wRVUs for most office-visit E&M codes due to added responsibilities physicians have absorbed over the last five years. As a result of the overall projected increased in wRVUs, a 10.6% reduction in the conversion factor was required in order to maintain budget neutrality. The proposed increase in wRVU values ranges from 28%-46% for established office visits, which will have a significant impact on compensation plans that use wRVUs as a determinant of compensation.

Considerations for 2020 and Beyond

Although COVID-19 has sharpened industry focus on supporting financial sustainability, other market dynamics and the timing of anticipated financial recovery are also influencing the way hospitals and health systems are approaching physician compensation in both the short and long-term.

“Considering the implications of COVID-19 in 2020 and the impending impact of wRVU changes in 2021, the 2020 survey benchmark data represents the best data reference point for use in the near future. With appropriate context, it can serve as a foundation for understanding specialty market positioning leading into COVID-19, identifying recruitment and retention risks, and pinpointing areas of focus for targeted compensation adjustments as your organization moves forward with 2021 planning,” said Dave Hesselink, Principal, SullivanCotter.

There are a number of important physician compensation considerations for organizations to assess as they continue to navigate the new normal:

  • Be mindful of how to appropriately use 2020 survey data. Understand the timing of the data and consider what you are trying to assess before using it. It can be helpful in benchmarking the competitiveness of compensation program elements and incentive opportunities.
  • Develop an approach to physician compensation now in response to CMS’ proposed wRVU changes. Organizations should be proactive in assessing how these changes will impact payer reimbursement and physician compensation programs.
  • With continued uncertainty regarding the impact of the pandemic in FY2021 and beyond, be prepared for new pandemic-related challenges to patient revenues and physician compensation. Organizations would be well-advised to have a plan developed in advance of any new restrictions on elective and non-emergent care to mitigate additional financial losses.

For more information on SullivanCotter’s surveys or the upcoming Evaluation and Management wRVU value changes, please visit our website at www.sullivancotter.com, email us or contact us by phone at 888.739.7039.

About SullivanCotter

SullivanCotter partners with health care and other not-for-profit organizations to understand what drives performance and improve outcomes through the development and implementation of integrated workforce strategies. Using our time-tested methodologies and industry-leading research and information, we provide data-driven insights, expertise, data and technology products to help organizations align business strategy and performance objectives – enabling our clients to deliver on their mission, vision and values.


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INFOGRAPHIC | 2020 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey

Utilizing the 2020 survey data to assess the competitiveness of physician compensation programs and incentive opportunities

Physician compensation programs are shifting to address changing market dynamics and mitigate the financial implications of COVID-19. Considering the current impact of the pandemic and the impending wRVU changes in
2021, the 2020 survey represents the best data reference point for use in the near future.

With appropriate context, it can serve as a foundation for understanding specialty market positioning leading into COVID-19, identifying recruitment and retention risks, and pinpointing areas of focus for targeted compensation adjustments as you move forward with 2021 planning.

Learn more from SullivanCotter’s 2020 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey - which contains data from more than 800 organizations on approximately 244,000 individual physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs).

The 2021 survey is now open for participation!

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PRESS RELEASE | Results from SullivanCotter's Annual Health Care Executive Compensation Survey

Offering insight into pandemic-related pay actions and considerations for 2020 and beyond as health care organizations plan for what lies ahead

November 5, 2020 – ChicagoSullivanCotter, the nation’s leading independent consulting firm in the assessment and development of total rewards programs, workforce solutions, and technology and data products for the health care industry and not-for-profit sector, recently released results from its 2020 Manager and Executive Compensation in Hospitals and Health Systems Survey which is now in its 28th year. This year’s results include information from more than 2,300 organizations. More importantly, the survey contains the last set of benchmark data compiled prior to the onset of COVID-19 and provides important pre-pandemic reference points for assessing executive compensation programs.

“While pay actions are being impacted by the pandemic, the foundational structure of executive compensation programs has generally remained unchanged. The 2020 survey data can be used to assess the competitiveness of base salaries, the level of incentive opportunities and other program design considerations. In light of the impact of the pandemic on business operations, now is an appropriate time to evaluate the broader implications of COVID-19 on your talent strategy, compensation philosophy and program design to ensure they reflect your organization’s new priorities,” said Tom Pavlik, Managing Principal, SullivanCotter.

Executive Base Salaries in 2020

In recent years, executive salaries were trending upward due to the focus on recruitment and retention of key leadership talent and an increasingly complex health care market. When comparing data reported by organizations that participated in SullivanCotter’s survey in both 2019 and 2020, median base salaries going into 2020 increased at a rate of 3.4% to 5.6% for the most senior executives of independent health systems (Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, CFOs, COOs and CEOs) as opposed to 0.8% to 4.1% for those executive positions at system-owned hospitals.

However, due to the financial impact of COVID-19, many organizations have implemented temporary executive base salary reductions. According to SullivanCotter’s COVID-19 Executive and Employee Compensation Practices Survey series, which was conducted between April 2020 and August 2020 to provide insight into the current practices of more than 100 large health systems, only 14% of organizations were considering or had implemented executive base salary reductions as of April. By May, this number had risen to 31%. Through August, implemented salary reductions reached 45%. However, of this 45%, nearly half had already reinstated the pre-pandemic salaries with the remainder expected to do so by the end of the year.

Executive Base Salary Increase Budgets

An analysis of the survey data indicates that, prior to COVID-19, median salary increase budgets for health care executives were expected to remain consistent with recent years at 2.7% for independent health system executives and 3.0% for system-owned hospital executives. The pandemic has impacted the financial condition of many organizations and is moderating salary increase plans for FY2021.

According to SullivanCotter’s proprietary COVID-19 research, about 40% of organizations had determined their FY2021 executive salary increase budgets by mid-August. The preliminary median executive salary increase budget is 2.5%, with 15% planning to freeze executive salaries. The other 60% of organizations had not yet determined their salary increase budget, and 20%-25% are delaying the timing of these increases. These figures may change over time as financial performance will impact the ability to fully fund planned budgets, and it is anticipated that more organizations may consider executive salary freezes for FY2021.

Executive Annual Incentive Plans

Executive annual incentive plans (AIPs) are still the norm as organizations are increasingly focused on system-wide alignment and pay-for-performance. Prior to COVID-19, 89% of independent health systems and 67% of system-owned hospitals utilized AIPs with award opportunities varying by health system size based on net revenue.

According to SullivanCotter’s research, however, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on executive incentive plans for FY2020. As of mid-August, more than half of the participating organizations had implemented or were still considering changes to FY2020 plans. While one-third did not yet know how they will handle their FY2020 annual incentive payouts, approximately 20% are eliminating or considering eliminating payouts, nearly 30% expect to pay below target, and only about 20% expect to pay at target or above.

Considerations for 2020 and Beyond

As hospitals and health systems plan for what lies ahead and look to support financial sustainability and mitigate risk, organizations should consider both market practices and their individual financial circumstances when determining their executive compensation and workforce-related actions moving forward.

“SullivanCotter’s 2020 survey reflects the most recent normative year prior to COVID-19. Due to the current pandemic and the extremely dynamic environment, the survey data should be used thoughtfully, with appropriate context, and with sound business judgement as you are planning and considering your pay decisions for FY2020 and beyond,” said Bruce Greenblatt, Managing Principal, SullivanCotter.

There are a number of important executive compensation considerations for organizations to consider as they move forward:

  • Be mindful of how to appropriately use 2020 survey data. Understand the timing of the data and consider what you are trying to assess before using them. The data can be helpful in benchmarking the competitiveness of compensation program elements and award opportunities.
  • Rely on sound business judgement and discretion when evaluating base salary actions and incentives for FY2020.
  • Plan to revisit incentive performance goals for FY2021 to ensure they are tailored to the current environment.
  • Assess the broader impact of COVID-19 on executive talent strategy and review the compensation philosophy and program design.
  • With continued uncertainty in FY2021 and beyond, remain mindful of the environment and be flexible.

For more information on SullivanCotter’s surveys, please visit our website at www.sullivancotter.com, email us or contact us by phone at 888.739.7039.

About SullivanCotter

SullivanCotter partners with health care and other not-for-profit organizations to understand what drives performance and improve outcomes through the development and implementation of integrated workforce strategies. Using our time-tested methodologies and industry-leading research and information, we provide data-driven insights, expertise, data and technology products to help organizations align business strategy and performance objectives – enabling our clients to deliver on their mission, vision and values.


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INFOGRAPHIC | 2020 Manager and Executive Compensation in Hospitals and Health Systems

Considerations for using the 2020 survey data in light of COVID-19

As the last set of benchmark data available prior to the onset of COVID-19, SullivanCotter shares results from its 2020 Manager and Executive Compensation in Hospitals and Health Systems Survey. This analysis also includes insight into pandemic-related pay actions, important considerations for 2020 and beyond as organizations plan for what lies ahead, and using this year's benchmark data to help navigate future executive compensation decisions in light of COVID-19 and other market dynamics.

Now in its 28th year, this survey is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind for hospitals and health systems nationwide. Information was collected from over 2,200 organizations comprising 460 health systems and 1,800 hospitals and includes data for more than 42,000 individual managers and executives.

The 2021 survey is now open for participation!

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INFOGRAPHIC | Considerations for Addressing the 2021 E&M Work RVU Changes

Considerations for Addressing CMS' final changes to the 2021 E&M Work RVU Values


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ARTICLE | 2021 Evaluation and Management CPT Codes: Understanding the Impact on Physician Compensation
ARTICLE | Navigating Change: Implications of the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule
SullivanCotter's CPT Advisory Services and Technology Solutions


Following its annual review of the American Medical Association’s Relative Value System Update Committee’s recommendations, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized proposed changes to the 2021 Physician Fee Schedule and has significantly overhauled the Evaluation and Management (E&M) code documentation requirements, time-effort recognition, and wRVU values for new and established patient office visits.  These changes were effective as of January 1, 2021.

As organizations look to understand the impact of these changes on reported physician productivity levels, it is also important to assess the effect it will have on physician compensation arrangements, fair market value and commercial reasonableness considerations, financial sustainability and national survey benchmarks.

Contact us or visit our CPT Solutions page learn more about assessing the impact of the E&M code changes within your organization.

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Optimizing Care Delivery in Response to COVID-19

Supporting system-wide alignment in an evolving health care environment

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Health systems nationwide continue to face a number of unprecedented challenges due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting financial sustainability remains a top priority. As the industry looks ahead and makes plans for financial recovery and operational transformation, optimizing care delivery to improve efficiency, drive workforce performance and increase revenue is a critical step in this process.

Care delivery optimization between systems and their affiliated hospitals, integrated practices, and physician and advanced practice provider (APP) workforces can promote financial sustainability by identifying gaps in care delivery, improving operational efficiency, reducing clinical variation, and expanding capacity for important growth initiatives. To help accomplish this, there are five key areas that health care organizations should focus on as they look to position themselves to deliver the greatest possible value.

SullivanCotter recommends a thoughtful and strategic review of the following areas:

Physician/APP-Hospital Alignment

Aligning operations, goals and results across the organization is key to building a workforce that is unified and supports organizational strategy. To enhance care delivery optimization, organizations should:

  • Assess current physician affiliation relationships, including pending and/or potential mergers and acquisitions and consider:
    • Updating due diligence assessments in the context of COVID-19 to include financial analysis and review of agreements
    • Reviewing key characteristics of existing compensation arrangements and performance requirements to conduct best practice comparisons by affiliation model/relationship and assure incentives are aligned between the models
  • Evaluate current and projected physician and APP staffing requirements and care team development to address community need, integrated practice and service line needs
  • Review current and potential Service Line Co-Management or HEIP (Hospital Efficiency Improvement Plan) arrangements to ensure the metrics are still aligned with system goals
  • Assess physician involvement in the decision-making process, including medical group and service line governance structure
  • Consider clinical workforce culture and perceptions related to strategic objectives while also identifying opportunities for improvement

Medical Group Operational and Financial Performance

Evaluating a medical group’s overall performance against a variety of operational and financial metrics will help identify actionable areas for improvement.

  • Assess key medical group and/or specialty-level operational and financial performance indicators
    • Review and update productivity thresholds and benchmarks, revenue, expenses and overall financial performance, staffing ratios, measured outcomes, patient capacity and clinic throughput
    • Evaluate performance indicators shared with physicians and APPs and ensure systems are in place to provide transparent and timely information on performance relative to benchmarks, service line and system strategic goals
    • Consider primary care model redesign and develop financial feasibility pro forma based on volume expectations and clinical regulations
    • Focus on care delivery models designed to achieve optimal financial performance with a patient-centric focus (e.g., improves satisfaction, APPs practice at top-of-license, yields appropriate return on investment)
  • Perform workflow assessment at the service line and practice levels to evaluate patient access and throughput, including the utilization of telehealth and remote services

Specialty and Service Line Care Delivery

Once the medical group’s overall performance has been assessed and specific underperforming specialties have been identified, it is important to do a deep dive into specialty and service line performance. Assessing clinical workforce performance is imperative as organizations look to increase the focus on value-based outcomes associated with quality and cost.

  • Evaluate unwarranted care variation and cost-efficiency opportunities
  • Develop strategies to reduce length of stay variance, readmission and value-based care penalties
  • Perform service line and facility-based workforce planning and staffing efficiency assessments
  • Identify appropriate benchmarks related to cost of care against internal and external cohorts
  • Review physician referral processes to help project actual and expected volumes

Readiness for Value-Based Care

Successfully navigating the transition from volume to value relies largely on enhancing patient access. Care model designs that do not support this goal will likely result in stagnant market share or loss of patients.

  • Conduct a physician needs assessment, demographic map and strategic plan to match service needs within market segments based on expected changes
  • Perform analysis of telehealth capacity, financial return on investment and regulatory requirements
  • Assess clinic space, including waiting room access and throughput in light of COVID restrictions

APP Utilization

APPs are one of the fastest growing segments of the health care workforce. Integrating APPs as key members of the care delivery team and utilizing them to their full potential can help an organization to achieve a number of important goals – including improved patient access, increased revenue, and enhanced quality and service while also reducing the cost of care.

  • Perform a current-state analysis by comparing APP utilization and productivity to market benchmarks based on specialty and role:
    • Quantify the financial opportunity available with a fully optimized APP workforce
    • Conduct a readiness assessment to determine barriers and cultural considerations related to full APP optimization
    • Identify specific specialties or service lines with the most opportunity (financial or non-financial) and readiness for change
  • Review and update APP organizational practices:
    • Assess governance structures, recruitment and retention policies, and training and development programs
    • Align organizational bylaws, policies, practices and operations to federal and state laws, payer policies and procedures, and leading market practices

Conclusion

The process of evaluating these five focus areas will help to highlight and quantify opportunities for improving patient access, enhancing organizational efficiency, increasing revenue and reducing costs as health systems plan for what lies ahead. For each area of focus, SullivanCotter recommends developing an in-depth assessment, utilizing operational and financial expertise and incorporating comparative benchmark data analysis to define potential solutions unique to the requirements of each system to help optimize clinical performance and achieve key organizational goals.

 

Leveraging data-driven insights and over 25 years of experience, SullivanCotter partners with organizations to develop comprehensive care delivery optimization strategies tailored to the unique needs of each client.