Orthopedic Surgery Call Coverage Payments: Understanding and Applying Survey Data

Published by Becker's ASC Review Statistics show orthopedic surgeons are paid for call coverage more than any other specialty. According to a 2009 Sullivan Cotter Survey, approximately three out of four hospitals, who report on-call payments to physicians, provide payments for orthopedic surgeons. Health systems struggling with what to pay these physicians can take some comfort in the fact that compensation survey data for this specialty has remained relatively stable for the past four years. The following outlines compensation survey data findings, along with valuation considerations, when determining if an orthopedic surgeon warrants compensation at the low-, mid- or high-end of survey data.

Market data on orthopedic surgery call payments

Most valuation experts advise health systems to steer clear of relying on survey data alone when it comes to determining call coverage payments. Reasons this data is considered unreliable include:
  • low number of survey respondents;
  • large variance in reported fees;
  • lack of information related to volume of call (the OIG suggests this be considered);
  • lack of information related to payor mix (OIG suggests this be considered);
  • no details related to the agreement terms; and
  • the data is based on hospital-physician relationships, which is considered risky to rely upon based on guidance from healthcare regulations (Stark).
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