More physicians getting on-call pay

March 1, 2004



The percentage of hospitals and large medical groups that compensate physicians for call duty has been increasing over the last few years. According to the 2003 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey, 40% of the 180 responding organizations paid physicians for call duty—up from 28% in early 2002 and 19% in early 2001.

The survey from Sullivan, Cotter, & Associates, which conducts annual compensation surveys for health care and general industry, found that there are two kinds of call duty compensation: restricted call duty, which requires on-call physicians to stay on the premises, and unrestricted call duty, which requires on-call physicians to be contacted and to go into their facilities if necessary. As you might expect, rates for restricted call duty are higher than that for unrestricted ones, reported the online newsletter MD Practice Alert (11/5/03).

When setting compensation rates for either restricted or unrestricted call duty, the survey found that 68% of respondents negotiate individually with the physician or group that will fill on-call slots. Another 23% base their rates on a percentage of the market rate for the physician's specialty, and the remaining 9% pay the same rate for all on-call physicians regardless of specialty.

The survey also found that the pay practices of hospitals and medical groups vary for physicians on unrestricted call duty: 41% negotiate their rates individually, 27% pay the market rate for the specialty, 23% grant the on-call physician or group the professional fees generated, and 9% pay a flat rate to the on-call physician or group regardless of specialty.