Physician retention is a critical issue for hospitals and health systems. According to a study by Jackson Physician Research and MGMA, there is a clear gap between hospital administrators' awareness of physician retention programs and what physicians expect. While only 30% of administrators believe that they have no formal retention strategy in place, a whopping 83% of physicians say they don’t see any clear retention plan — with doctor responses ranging from being unclear if a hospital does have one to thinking that it does not exist at all.
This means that hospitals and healthcare organizations must continually work to develop new strategies to attract and keep physicians. Developing a clear and well-communicated incentive system is a great start. In this article, we will discuss what a hospital can do when crafting and implementing a physician incentive program.
What Causes Physicians To Leave?
Burnout is a major reason why physicians leave their jobs, but even in this area administrators and doctors do not seem to have the same perception. The same Jackson/MGMA study reveals that physicians attribute 62% of their feelings of burnout to their current employer, whereas only 14% of administrators think the same — 55% of employers attribute most of the burnout to the "nature of being a physician."
So what can hospital administrators and managers do to narrow this perception gap and ensure that their healthcare staff members are feeling fulfilled and inspired to stay? Offering incentives for doctors is one way to show the hard work is appreciated and that the hospital values their contributions.
What Physician Incentives Work Best?
When it comes to physician incentives, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different incentives will motivate different doctors depending on their individual personalities and motivations. However, there are some incentives that are more commonly successful than others.
Some of the most popular incentives for doctors include the following:
- Paid Time Off (PTO)
- Continuing Medical Education (CME) Funding
- Signing Bonuses
- Relocation Expenses
- Housing Allowances
- Malpractice Insurance Coverage
- Pension Plans or 401(k) Matching Contributions
- Quarterly or Annual Awards Dinner/Banquet
- Car Allowances
- Profit Sharing
While these are some of the most popular, it is essential to tailor them to fit the needs and desires of your specific physicians. It is also important to change them up occasionally to keep things fresh and prevent physicians from becoming complacent.
Elements of a Successful Physician Incentive Plan
When working with highly skilled professionals, drafting an incentive plan can be challenging. Here are the essential elements that should go into your rewards strategy:
1. Define the goal of the incentive plan.
The goal of the incentive plan should be clear and concise. It should be designed to achieve a specific outcome, such as reducing burnout, improving patient satisfaction scores, or increasing retention rates.
2. Understand your physicians.
In order to design a successful incentive plan, you must first understand your physicians. What motivates them? What do they value? What are their goals? Take the time to get to know them on a personal level and you will be better equipped to design a physician incentive program that meets their needs.
3. Consider the impact on physician well-being.
When crafting an incentive plan, it is important to consider how physicians will welcome the program. The goal should never be to create an environment of competition or stress. Instead, the focus should be on creating a positive and supportive culture that encourages physicians to do their best work without sacrificing their own health.
4. Make it easy to understand and implement.
Physicians should not have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to qualify for the incentives or what they need to do to receive them.
5. Communicate the plan to all stakeholders.
The incentive program must be communicated to all stakeholders, including physicians, nurses, administrators, and staff. Everyone involved should have a clear understanding of how it will work.
6. Focus on quality, not quantity.
Physicians should not be rewarded for the number of procedures they perform or the number of patients they see. Instead, they should be rewarded for providing quality care that meets the needs of their patients.
7. Set realistic expectations.
It is important that expectations are realistic and achievable. Physicians should not be expected to meet outrageous goals or quotas in order to receive the incentives.
8. Make it personal.
Incentives should be personal to each physician, based on their goals and motivations. It should also be flexible enough to accommodate changes in a physician’s circumstances.
9. Offer ongoing support.
The program should be supported by ongoing education and training for all stakeholders. Physicians should be given periodic updates on the plan and its objectives. They should also be given the opportunity to provide feedback and offer suggestions for improvement.
10. Review and adjust as needed.
The program is not set in stone. Changes should be made based on the results of performance assessments and feedback from physicians and other stakeholders.
Physician incentive programs are only as successful as the sum of their parts. All of the elements listed above are important to create a plan that will actually motivate physicians to stay with your hospital or healthcare organization. By following these 10 tips, you can create a plan that will positively impact physician retention rates.
Building Great Healthcare Teams With On Time Talent Solutions
If you’re looking to recruit the best healthcare professionals whose goals are aligned with yours, get in touch with On Time Talent Solutions. We can help you find physicians and other healthcare professionals who are the perfect fit for your organization.
On Time Talent Solutions is a healthcare staffing firm that specializes in the recruitment and placement of physicians and other healthcare specialists. We have years of experience helping hospitals and health systems all over the U.S. find the best talent available.