COVID-19 is significantly impacting our country, our healthcare system, and its workers. As organizations adjust operations to treat infected patients and to minimize the spread of the virus, Gallagher’s goal is to help guide decision-making concerns regarding physician compensation that support the overall wellbeing of everyone involved. As such, we recommend the following:
- Any changes should ensure the safety and wellbeing of physicians, staff and the patients they serve. As always, we put health and safety at the center of everything we do.
- Use your organization’s policies and procedures before developing and adopting alternatives. For example, you might handle issues of sick leave due to quarantine or infection through your current paid time off (PTO) and short-term disability (STD) policies.
- Make compensation decisions for physicians in the context of the organization’s broader strategy and philosophy. In times of crisis, it is important to be fair to physicians. However, providing physicians with a benefit or adjustment that may appear significantly more favorable than what you provide to other front line workers might be questionable from a fair market value perspective—as well as detrimental to employee morale and public relations.
- For physicians who are compensated on productivity models, examine where physicians’ base draws are set and consider realigning them based on projected volumes for the next 3 to 6 months. Determine base salary/draw protections for physicians who are compensated at more than the 90th percentile, based on the individual facts and circumstances, and subject to more detailed review.
- Take a wait-and-see approach to determine what is financially feasible after the crisis resolves. While experts are uncertain when the pandemic will end and business will return to normal, we recommend leaders think longer-term about compensation changes. Keep any changes limited in duration, and ensure that providers understand that further compensation changes could come at any time.
Be sure to collaborate with legal, compliance, finance, and HR departments before making any change to compensation strategy to avoid potential implications to physician contracts and employee benefit plans.
This guidance attempts to address some of the concerns and questions we at Gallagher have received. However, as the pandemic’s influence on our country changes daily, it is likely that this guidance will not address every situation. Please check back with our expert consultants if you have questions about how this pandemic can and will impact your physician compensation programs. We can work with you to help your organization face the future with confidence.