RVUs as indicator of productivity

July 10, 2011

It is common in a lot of hospital or health system contracts to use RVUs as an indicator of productivity.

Q: I don't understand how an employed physician whose salary is relative value unit-based (RVU) can be told that they have paid time off (PTO) days by their corporate management, when any day away from the practice, is a day of RVUs-meaning salary-lost. Is this common?

A: It is common in a lot of hospital or health system contracts to use RVUs as an indicator of productivity. It is also common to use the term paid time off (PTO). The difference between the physician working under a productivity contract and doctors in private practice is that the health system has responsibility for both the invested capital and the ongoing expenses of the business. This means that the RVU is really only a predefined indicator in a contract rather than a direct tie to the profit in the practice. The PTO process is generally employed to define how scheduling can be accomplished since "time available for patients" is also an important factor in running the practice.