Five questions to ask about wRVU compensation


If you're getting paid in work RVUS, then you need to understand what you’re being paid for and how to calculate your compensation.

Physicians employed by a medical group, hospital or academic institution are commonly compensated using a productivity formula based on work relative value units (wRVUs).

Since wRVUs drive your paycheck, it’s to your advantage to ask questions in order to understand how the system works - and specifically how your employer counts wRVUs.

What are wRVUs?

Medicare establishes an RVU for each CPT code to determine reimbursement. The RVU has three components: physician work, practice expense and malpractice. The physician work RVU, or wRVU, is a "neutralized" way to quantify and compare the productivity of physicians because it eliminates variables such as fee schedules or geographical costs.

Most groups multiply the wRVUs for services provided by a conversion factor to determine all or part of a physician’s compensation. For example, a surgeon who is paid at $60.00 per wRVU and produces 6,000 wRVUs would be compensated $360,000.

What’s there to understand?

It seems pretty simple, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Counting wRVUs is not entirely straightforward, and too often a lack of transparency between administrators and physicians, whether intentional or not, sows seeds of doubt that can grow into a tree of distrust and hostility.