The distance between compensation levels for primary care physicians and specialists has shrunk slightly, according to results from a recent survey. Sullivan, Cotter and Associates Inc. reports that median total cash compensation for primary care physicians between 2012 and 2013 grew 5.7 percent. Conversely, medical and surgical specialists had an increase of 3.2 and 2.3 percent, respectively, during the same time.

The survey also found that health care organizations are changing their physician compensation plans. While clinical productivity — used by about two-thirds of organizations and most often based on work relative value units — continues to be part of the compensation model, many organizations are developing transitional approaches that allow them to include other performance-based metrics such as quality, patient satisfaction and, in some cases, citizenship.

The prevalence and amount of compensation tied to these metrics have grown significantly over the past few years. The survey found that the overall median amount paid for quality in 2013 was $15,000; however, this varied from $7,000 median quality payments for primary care to $20,000 for medical-surgical specialties. When considered as a percentage of total cash compensation, the overall median amount paid for quality was 5 percent.

The survey also revealed that 64 percent of health care organizations pay at least some physicians for call coverage, up from 48 percent in 2008.

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