With a looming physician shortage, your ability to successfully recruit and retain physician talent will be a key weapon in the fight for market dominance. Hospitals can earn the upper hand by combining competitive compensation packages with a high-functioning group culture and strong operating infrastructure.

Many factors influence a physician’s decision on where to work and the individual weighting of these factors varies greatly among physicians. In almost all cases, however, compensation is a major factor. Therefore, it’s crucial that your compensation plan be attractive to potential physician recruits, some of whom are receiving up to a dozen employment offers.

Think about your most recent compensation offers and answer the following questions:

  • Is the total compensation package competitive as judged by national survey data and local market knowledge? When answering this question, consider multiple survey sources (not just MGMA) that are relevant to your organization and market. Seek knowledge of competitor offers by asking potential recruits and using publicly-available reporting sources.
  • Can you explain your compensation plan in less than five minutes using no more than one sheet of paper? If your answer is, “No,” your compensation plan might be too complicated. Some organizations assume that complicated compensation plans are better. Physicians don’t agree. Without a clear understanding of what they will make and how they will earn it, physicians will be hesitant to pursue an offer.
  • Do you have a strategy for transitioning to value-based compensation plans? As practice revenue becomes more dependent on quality, outcomes, and satisfaction, so must physician compensation. Making this transition haphazardly will strain your physician relationships and may even cause some physicians to leave your organization. To retain your top physician talent, you must have a deliberate transition strategy that includes education and solicits buy-in from key physician leaders.

Unfortunately, even a top-notch compensation plan may not be enough to recruit and retain the best physicians. Consider the following two non-financial questions:

  • Does your organization have a high-functioning group culture? Organizations with a strong vision, cohesive culture, and robust physician leadership are more likely to recruit and retain high quality physicians.
  • Are you making life easy for your physicians by offering a strong operational infrastructure? Many physicians want to focus on patient care instead of the burdens of running a practice. Successful organizations must have a competent management structure at the office and administrative levels. A smoothly running office and lack of bureaucracy will help keep physicians happy, and therefore encourage retention.

Hospitals and systems that have the financial resources and market position and choose to aggressively recruit physicians and invest in building a strong physician network will have a competitive edge. Those that don’t will most certainly be relegated to second-tier players in the market.

Neal D. Barker

Partner and Managing Director, Compensation and Compliance

Terrence R. McWilliams, MD, FAAFP

Chief Clinical Officer and Managing Director, Employed Provider Networks