MD Ranger’s 2021 Report: New Benchmarks Suggest COVID-19 Impacts on Physician Payments

Posted on
April 27, 2021

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MD Ranger announced the publication of new physician compensation benchmarks based on 2020 contract data. The report underscores the significance of physician payments as a major component of hospital spending, despite the global pandemic. Notable changes in payment rates were observed possibly resulting from the pandemic’s adverse impact on hospital volume and revenue.

MD Ranger’s 12th year of reporting features thousands of benchmarks derived from a database of more than 42,000 contracts from over 300 hospitals and hundreds of health care providers across the US, making it the largest survey of non-salaried physician payments. Benchmarks include ED coverage, medical directorships, administrative services, hospital-based services, medical staff leadership, telemedicine, diagnostic testing, and clinical hourly rates. Salary and productivity benchmarks are also available and will be updated in the coming months.

Health care providers use MD Ranger’s benchmarks to set payment rates, document fair market value and comply with federal regulations like Stark and the Anti-Kickback statute. MD Ranger is used by hundreds of healthcare organizations, including hospitals, health systems, trauma centers, medical groups, LTACs, outpatient providers, and critical access facilities.

The impact of COVID-19 on physician contract payments appears to be variable. Founder and CEO Penny Stroud observed, “Payment rates for most services were surprisingly stable in 2020 despite the pandemic, indicating that hospitals maintained a similar profile of contracted physician services. Notably, 50% of hospital-based physician payments increased, in some cases significantly, due to increased staffing requirements and costs for hospitalists, intensivists and emergency departments during COVID-19 surges and decreased revenue from fewer elective and surgical cases. Telemedicine monthly payments also swelled across multiple specialties.”

Key findings from the 2021 benchmarks include:

  • Overall, there continue to be more benchmarks that increased than decreased.
  • 17% of ED call coverage payment benchmarks declined more than 5% in 2021 compared to only 14% in 2020 while 61% increased compared to 68% in 2020.
  • 50% of hospital-based services increased more than 5%, with significant increases in neonatology, psychiatric hospitalists and anesthesia benchmarks.
  • While more than half of medical direction payments are within 5% of the prior year, MD Ranger observed more decreases than increases. As seen in the past, hourly rates were steady but annual payments declined due to falling annual hours. 35% of annual hours benchmarks decreased compared to 22% in 2020; conversely, only 31% increased compared to 40% in 2020.
  • Telemedicine monthly payments increased more than 50% at the median and the number of hospitals buying telemedicine services in the database increased almost 22%.
  • MD Ranger reported more committee payment benchmarks than ever as hospitals signal their commitment to improving both patient and physician satisfaction and quality of care. New benchmarks included “Practitioner Health and Wellness Committee” among others.