FQHC Round Table: Overcoming the Increased Cost of Physician Compensation

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 – In collaboration with David Gomez & Associates’ management team and healthcare practice leads,Christopher Gomez, M.B.A., a Partner at the firm, invited a group of C-level leaders from Community Health Centers around Chicago for a think tank session about the ever vexing labor trend of increased physician compensation.

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Keynote speaker Barrett Hatches; Ph.D., M.A., CEO of Chicago  Chicago Family Health Center, was the first to tackle the issue on January 14th with ten community health executives. CFHC made a decision to move physician compensation closer to market, which has increased recruiting and retention, yet still faced clinician attrition. With a goal to reduce future turnover, Hatches worked to better understand what clinicians’ value in their work environment. The major discoveries were well-run call scheduling operations, reduced commute times, optimal Electronic Health Records systems – increased assistance with those systems, open communication with his leadership team, and a superb physical environment. Hatches also engaged his physician population by creating personal relationships, demonstrating the value of working in an FQHC by driving CFHC’s mission, and highlighting the impact they make in South Chicago.

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Robert Urso; MS, MHA, BSN, President & CEO of PCC Wellness Community Center, contributed to this discussion by stating that PCC has developed a focus group that will continuously engage family practice providers in dialogue to identify additional benefits valued by physicians. Physicians stated that they are most concerned with PCC’s overall goal of building the most effective, sustainable family practice model in the country. In light of their allegiance to this goal, PCC physicians stated that they value the implementation of team-based care. Team-based care is a delivery model where patients are assigned interdisciplinary care teams in which each member works to his or her highest capabilities, focusing on activities that are most appropriate to that person’s education and training. Through this model, physicians are supported by highly capable nurses and paraprofessionals who help reduce physicians’ administrative burden, allowing physicians more time to provide primary care. As this model is being implemented, the focus group will continue to assess progress and determine the appropriate proportion of time each provider should spend carrying out administrative duties.

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An ancillary topic of the discussion occurred from the dramatic differences in compensation expectations from diverse age groups of physicians in the healthcare industry. Dr. Lisa Green; DO, MPH, CEO & Founder of Family Christian Health Center, noted the importance of speaking candidly to younger physicians to clarify questions about compensation and has recommended tax accountants or lawyers to educate her physicians on the tax ramifications of the different options available to them. David Berkey, M.B.A., Vice President of Physician Services at Sinai Health System, remarked that in his experience the younger generations of physicians are seeking a better work life balance than older physicians, but providing a better work life balance has reduced clinic hours at Sinai. When physicians retire, Berkey stated that Sinai Health System now requires 1.3 physicians to replace the working hours achieved by older generation physicians. This reinforces just how important managing physicians’ compensation expectations have become for healthcare leaders.

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The Health Resources and Services Administration’s focus on,the coordination, comprehensiveness of care, and the use of key quality improvement practices, including health information technology,” has modernized physicians’ obligations versus their traditional responsibilities. This shift has created new challenges and opportunities for healthcare leaders. In summary, the Community Health executives in attendance uncovered multiple avenues utilized to address physicians’ compensation models by bending traditional schedules, the implementation of team based care, and building interpersonal relationships between management and clinical staff. Participants’ feedback has been described with excitement about working together to identify and share best practices in order to provide the best care possible for their communities.

Join in the discussion at our next round table on April 8th addressing, “How to position FQHCs in order to compete in the new coordinated care model.” More details to follow. For more information contact:

Christopher Max Gomez
Partner | DG&A
312-279-2085| cgomez@dgai.com

Our mailing address is:
David Gomez & Associates, Inc.
65 E. Wacker Place, Suite 1610,
Chicago, IL 60601