Practice Staff Also Need Incentive to Improve Patient Satisfaction

September 10, 2012

As nonproductivity incentives play a growing role in physician compensation, staff will play an increasing role in determining physicians’ take-home pay.

As more practices participate in reimbursement models that reward them for the “value” of care they provide, such as accountable care organizations and Patient-Centered Medical Homes, many practices are incorporating value-based incentives into physician pay.

But physicians may not be the only members of the healthcare team who should be experiencing such compensation changes. That’s because a physician’s ability to fulfill value-based measures - such as certain quality, cost, or patient satisfaction targets - hinges, in part, on other members of the healthcare team. 

This is most evident when considering patient satisfaction. When patients take patient satisfaction surveys, even when the questions are designed to measure perception of care provided by the physician, patients are likely influenced by the practice environment, as well as the actions and attitudes taken by other staff members.

That means practices may want to consider incentivizing their staff members to encourage them to better align their own actions with their physicians’ and their practice’s goals and objectives.

“You’re going to have to think about whether or not you also want to incentivize staff in terms of patient satisfaction ... and I think we’re seeing that more groups are beginning to take a look at how they can do that,” Mary Witt, senior vice president of national healthcare management and consulting services company The Camden Group, recently told Physicians Practice.

She added, “I think [health systems] are beginning to recognize that staff may also need to be incentivized to achieve the goals of the organization just like physicians.” This need to incentivize staff members will likely become most critical in primary-care practices where team-based care is playing a growing role, said Witt.

So how exactly can practices begin incentivizing staff members? As Witt noted, some are considering having those incentives reflect the incentives offered to their physicians.

Typically, practices that incorporate value-based incentives into physician pay place a portion of compensation at risk dependent on that physician’s ability to meet certain quality and patient satisfaction targets; or they provide physicians with bonuses if they meet such targets.

Those practices considering incorporating value-based pay might start by conducting a patient satisfaction survey at the practice and providing staff with a bonus if certain patient satisfaction targets are met.

Do you think incorporating nonproductivity incentives into pay at your practice is a viable option? Why or why not?