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The Challenging World of Provider Compensation: 5 Takeaways from AAPCP’s Annual Conference

The American Association of Provider Compensation Professionals (AAPCP) held its annual event last month in Ludi’s hometown of Nashville, TN. It was a great gathering that included hundreds of participants from health care organizations across the country.

If you’re not familiar with the AAPCP, their annual conference offers members a variety of opportunities to network with colleagues, learn new skills and techniques, and gain access to educational resources that can help advance a member’s career in provider compensation.

As a corporate partner of the AAPCP, some of the Ludi Team participated in the conference, including myself, where I also had the opportunity to host a handful of small breakout sessions with participants. Here are five key takeaways I had from this year’s show:

1. A little bit like “therapy” for some…

Many attendees described the conference as therapy because their jobs are demanding, and it was comforting for many to hear (in-person) that they aren't alone in their struggles. Some of these specific struggles included the huge number of physicians many attendees are now managing, complex payment models, navigating FFS and value-based trends, and the impact of Covid on benchmarks and ever-changing fee schedules.

2. When it comes to design and setup of compensation contracts, members were looking for three things.

The conference's general focus was largely around the design and setup of compensation contracts. There were many discussions about FMV and the complexities members face in this particular area. Overall though, when it comes to compensation design and contracts, it was clear that members would like more help in three specific parts: 1. improving conversations with physicians about their compensation structure; 2. better understanding the bottom-line impact of their comp changes; and 3. more creative ways technology or vendor solutions can help remove administrative burden from their plates (including FMV concerns, etc.).
Other key topics at the show this year: increasing the use of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) and how it affects physician compensation, and how to staff and incentivize rural models.

3. Budget constraints continue to hamper hospital plans.

That’s probably not a surprise to anyone given the impact of inflation and the post-Covid environment we’re in. But tight operating budgets have left compensation teams with very little room to make enhancements and other investments where they’re needed. There was some hope that budget constraints will ease up later this year. We’ll see!

4. Buy vs. build decisions continue to take up headspace.

Many hospitals are grappling with buy vs. build decisions when it comes to their tech solutions. Some attendees agreed that going with a third-party vendor is the better approach, as it can be hard to keep in-house tech up to date.

5. Recruiting physicians is tricky and requires creativity and persistence.

About half the attendees we talked to in the small group sessions I moderated reported physician recruiting was part of HR rather than the physician enterprise, making the coordinating a bit more difficult. GI is the toughest specialty to recruit to today, with rural settings for all physicians being more competitive and harder positions to fill.

Other insights from our recruitment small group discussions:

Overall, the AAPCP annual conference put a much-needed spotlight on what is often an undernourished area of a hospital’s operations. It uncovered and addressed some of the real challenges professionals in the compensation and recruitment sectors face, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. And members themselves appreciated the opportunity to share insights about their job functions with their peers and gain new ideas for better alignment with their respective physician teams.

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