It is not uncommon for hospitals to experience a cascade effect once they start compensating for call coverage. However, it is generally not commercially reasonable to pay for all services. For example, 75% of hospitals report paying for general surgery while only 3% of hospitals report paying for podiatry call coverage. Just because a physician asks to be paid, does not mean it is commercially reasonable or necessary to pay. Navigating these negotiations can be difficult if the relationships are highly political or tenuous.
Despite the increasing pressure to pay for emergency coverage across multiple specialties, it is possible to find middle ground with physicians on this issue that addresses the physicians' need to be recognized for the time and service and the hospital's need for coverage. Here are some suggestions to consider for your organization.
Per Episode Payments
In smaller facilities and for specialties for which physicians may not be called often, the burden of taking call is lower. In these situations, the hospital may incur lower costs by paying a 'per episode' rate when the physician is called in rather than a daily per diem rate. This payment type is most often used for services like obstetrics, but it may also make sense for low volume specialties like ENT or plastic surgery. MD Ranger collects and reports per episode payment rates for subscribers and reports benchmarks that can be used to document market rates.
Check back next week for another alternative payment method for call coverage. In the meantime, if you have any questions about what call coverage alternative might be best for your facility, email our team at email@example.com.