Health Care On-Call Pay Continues To Rise

Most clinicians who provide call coverage for a hospital, whether employed by that hospital or not, have seen increases in pay for providing this service, according to the 2010 Physician On-Call Pay Survey Report, based on the sixth annual survey from compensation consultancy SullivanCotter.

The survey report, with data from 148 U.S. healthcare organizations, describes current physician on-call pay practices and rates paid for 40 physician specialty areas at both trauma and nontrauma centers. Key trends reported by survey participants include the following:

  • 55 percent said their physician on-call pay expenditures have increased within the past 12 months.
  • From 2007 to 2010, median on-call expenditures reported by trauma centers more than doubled, from $1.2 million in 2007 to $2.4 million in 2010.
  • For nontrauma centers, the median expenditure in 2007 was $433,849, compared to $798,000 in 2010.
  • 95 percent of the survey participants provide on-call pay to at least some of their nonemployed physicians with admitting privileges.
  • 65 percent provide on-call pay to at least some of their employed physicians; 27 percent who don’t pay extra for call factor this duty into physicians’ salaries.
  • 27 percent pay for “excess call only,” meaning that providers are only compensated for call after exceeding a specified number of shifts per month or year.
  • 15 percent compensate physicians who respond to call by phone but are not required to present at the hospital.

Key variables affecting physician on-call pay rates include the rates of local and national market benchmarks, frequency of the call coverage provided, the likelihood of being called in for service, payer mix and compensation received when called. Thus, rates – and likelihood of getting paid for call – varied dramatically by specialty.

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