UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) faculty Jennifer Lochner, MD, Beth Potter, MD, and Brian Arndt, MD, gave a lecture on the DFMCH’s new physician compensation model at a recent national meeting.

They presented “Salaries, Incentives, Fairness: Rethinking the Structure of Primary Care Physician Compensation,” at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s Conference on Practice Improvement, held December 3-6, 2015, in Dallas.

Physician compensation models influence healthcare cost, quality of care, and physician satisfaction and retention. Nationally, payment reform models that emphasize quality over quantity are being implemented, though many primary care physician compensation plans still lag behind.

In the session, Drs. Lochner, Potter and Arndt explained how the DFMCH changed the main driver of its physician compensation plan from quantity (as measured by relative value units, or RVUs) to panel size.

After reviewing pre- and post-transition data on RVUs, panel sizes, and physician satisfaction, they discussed what worked well and some unintended consequences.

They also discussed important contextual factors that other organizations considering similar changes should keep in mind, such as local payer mix, clinic culture and social science literature on motivation for professionals.

Dr. Lochner is a member of Primary Care Academics Transforming Healthcare (PATH), a UW Health multidisciplinary coalition of physicians and change leaders. The PATH collaborative works to bridge primary care clinical transformation and rigorous scientific study in order to improve our health system for the benefit of patients and communities.