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Purpose: With increased budget constraints, academic health centers (AHCs) have turned their focus on physician compensation. While many AHCs are concerned that compensation programs driven primarily by revenue generation will have a negative impact on their academic mission, little information is available to support this. The authors examined the effects on teaching and clinical productivity of an innovative compensation program for pediatrics primary care faculty at an AHC and related those effects to national standards for productivity.

Method: A baseline productivity and compensation assessment was conducted for a group of 35 academic general pediatricians. The data were compared with Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) figures for general pediatricians. A productivity-based faculty compensation program using the work component of the relative-value unit (RVU) as the measure of productivity was designed and implemented. Productivity and compensation were measured after the first year of the program and compared with the baseline assessment. The numbers of hours precepting students and residents and the students' evaluations of their clinical experiences before and after implementation of the program were compared.

Results: The baseline assessment showed that over half of the faculty had productivity that fell below the MGMA 25th percentile, while the majority had compensation that exceeded this percentile. After implementation of the compensation program, 89% of the faculty increased their clinical productivity. The times faculty spent precepting and students' evaluations before and after program implementation were unchanged.

Conclusions: Successful productivity-based physician compensation programs can be developed for AHCs.

(C) 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges