Physicians' love-hate relationship with incentive bonuses: Medscape

Physicians have weighed in on the benefits and disadvantages of incentive bonuses, a recent Medscape study found. 

Medscape surveyed 406 physicians between Aug. 17 and Sept. 1. Results were split, with 49 for bonuses and 51 percent against them. Those polled were also split 50-50 on the question of whether bonuses increase productivity. 

Fifty-eight percent of physicians said they received an incentive bonus in 2021, 44 percent of whom received $25,000. Thirty percent received between $25,001 to $50,000. Fourteen percent received over $100,000. 

Sixty-four percent said they preferred their bonus to be based on quality of care. Forty percent said professionalism and patient outcomes, respectively. Thirty-four percent said patient satisfaction, 26 percent said patient volume and 7 percent said market expansion. 

Seventy-four percent of physicians said bonuses can cause unnecessary testing and higher costs for patients. The results of the study also noted that patient outcome metrics can negatively affect physicians when it comes to noncompliant patients. 

Forty-five percent of physicians said it was difficult to meet incentive bonus metrics and 71 percent said their bonuses were at risk if those metrics weren't met. Only nine percent said it was easy to achieve their benchmarks. 

The study also said top healthcare employers like Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente have ceased incentive bonuses and now offer straight salaries. Seventy-six percent of physicians polled said bonuses should be phased out in favor of straight salaries.

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