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Anesth Analg. 2005 Feb;100(2):493-501.

The prevalence and characteristics of incentive plans for clinical productivity among academic anesthesiology programs.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0591, USA.


Performance-based compensation is encouraged in medical schools to improve faculty productivity. Medical specialties other than anesthesiology have used financial incentives for clinical work. The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence and the types of clinical incentive plans among academic anesthesiology departments. We performed an electronic survey of the members of the Society of Academic Anesthesiology Chairs and the Association of Anesthesiology Program Directors in the spring of 2003. The survey included questions about departmental size, presence of a clinical incentive plan, characteristics of existing incentive plans, primary quantifiers of productivity, and factors used to modify productivity measurements. An incentive plan was considered to be present if the department measured clinical productivity and varied compensation according to the measurements. The plans were grouped by the primary measure used into the following categories: None, Charges, Time, Shift, Late/Call (only late rooms and call), and Other. Eighty-eight (64%) of 138 programs responded to the survey, and 5 were excluded for incomplete data. Of the responding programs, 29% had no system, 30% used a Late/Call system, 20% used a Shift system, 11% used a Charges system, 6% used a Time system, and 3% fit in the Other category. Larger groups (>40 faculty members) had a significantly more frequent prevalence of incentive plans compared with smaller groups (<20 faculty members). Incentives were paid monthly or quarterly in 85% of the groups. In 90% of groups, incentive payments accounted for <25% of total compensation. Adjustments for operating room schedule supervisors, personally performed cases, day surgery preoperative clinics, pain-management services, and critical care services were included in less than half of the programs that reported incentive plans. Call and late room compensation was based on varied formulas. Sixty-nine percent of academic anesthesiology departments did not vary compensation according to clinical activity during regular hours. Most did vary payments on the basis of call and/or late rooms worked. Larger departments were more likely to use clinical incentive plans.

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