Editor’s Note: Are You Being Paid Fairly?

Compensation is a challenging subject for oncologists - more so now than ever. In our second edition of Your Best Practice we address some of the tougher questions on how and why some oncologists are paid more than others. We also give timely advice on reducing denials through technology. As ever, our goal is to help you manage your practice more effectively, one expert tip at a time.


I have an old friend who fancies herself something of a leftist radical.

She attends a lot of protest marches, many of her associates are aging hippies, and she thinks socialism has been unfairly maligned. We don’t agree on much, my friend and I, but our worst argument was about the parking situation at the urban hospital where she’s an administrator.

Why, she wondered aloud, do the physicians get the best spots? Why should the doctors get prime parking while the janitors have to fend for themselves? The injustice of it all!

I pointed out that the head of gastroenterology could probably do a better job of mopping the floors than the chief custodian could of performing a colonoscopy. That most physicians go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt just for the privilege of spending years in grueling training (if they’re smart enough to have gotten into medical school in the first place). And I noted, of course, that physicians save lives.

But still, she replied. The parking!

I couldn’t help thinking about that old fight while reading “How to Pay Your Doctors,” the cover story of this month’s Your Best Practice: A Practice Management Supplement for Oncologists, in which Jeffrey Milburn tackles the thorny question of how to develop an equitable compensation plan in oncology groups.

The reasons for compensating oncologists more than janitors are pretty obvious (well, to most of us), but Milburn, an attorney and expert in physician compensation plans, addresses the tougher question of how and why some oncologists are paid more than others - and why such disparities are necessary for most practices to survive. Even more importantly, though, he explains how you can form a more perfect union among the physicians at your practice by developing a compensation plan “that is perceived as fair - or at least equally unfair.”

It’s helping you deal with those kinds of tough challenges - the kind that many people aren’t comfortable talking about, yet have the power to rip practices apart - that we specialize in at Your Best Practice.

As a physician, yours is one of the noblest of callings; we know that. But we’re not bashful about pointing out that you’re also businessmen and women, and frankly, you’ve earned the right to make a fair living. You save lives; you deserve to get paid. We can’t help you much with the former but we know a little about the latter and humbly offer to assist.

This is the second edition of Your Best Practice: A Practice Management Supplement for Oncologists. Look for another in the fall. We launched this publication almost a year ago when CMPMedica, the publisher of Oncology News International, acquired Physicians Practice, (where I am the executive editor). We wanted to take advantage of our new relationship by offering oncologists access to the kind of content we publish monthly in Physicians Practice: practical, straightforward answers and advice on dealing with some of the toughest practice management challenges oncologists face.

Running a more efficient office is really about getting back control of your practice and your life. The editors of Oncology News International know that, too, and that’s why they’ve partnered with Physicians Practice to offer Your Practice.

In addition to advice on compensation plans, you’ll get suggestions on how to use the technology tools at your disposal to reduce the number of denials that oncologists have increasingly been seeing, thanks to tougher government payment rules; information on coding for concurrent infusions; and an explanation of “incident-to” billing.

What you will not find are clinically focused articles or in-depth coverage of disease states, like you do in Oncology News International. Instead, our goal is to help you solve the practice management problems that take up too much of your time so you can get back to the work you love: Treating your patients.

Physicians Practice and Oncology News International plan to continue this partnership. As we plan new issues of Your Practice, we’d love your feedback: Tell us what you think of this publication and what you’d like to see in the future.

Bob Keaveney is the executive editor of Physicians Practice. He can be reached at bkeaveney@physicianspractice.com.

This article originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Your Best Practice: A Practice Management Supplement for Oncologists and Hematologists.