Sunday, October 02, 2011

Compensation for Sleep Physicians

An experienced sleep technician recently asked me about compensation for sleep physician services at a sleep disorders center (IDTF) he is starting. Below is what I told him (disclaimer: this is based on my experiences over the last several years talking to numerous sleep professionals, and not on my own salary/compensation) -

1. There are 2 basic options for compensating the sleep physician for interpreting sleep studies. One is for the physician to bill for the professional component (-26) of the study, and the IDTF for the technical component (-TC). The other option is for the IDTF to bill for the studies on a global basis and pay the physician a fee for each interpretation. This fee typically ranges from $75 to $175 ($100-125 is average).
Although I am unsure if you can legally take it into account, the physician is going to probably expect to receive somewhere in the higher range if he is generating many of the referrals to the sleep center or providing outpt follow up to the patients. In this case, I would recommend letting the physician just bill for the professional component.

2. Medical director fees: Although some sleep centers try to bundle this in with interpretations, it is best from a legal standpoint to pay a separate fee for medical director duties (such as supervision of technicians, developing policies and procedures, administration, etc). There are 2 basic options. First, the medical director can keep a log of his administrative hours and be compensated on an hourly basis (typically $100-$150 per hour). The other option is to pay the medical director a fixed monthly fee- this is usually based on number of beds. $500-1000 for a 4 bed lab and $750-$1500 for a 6 bed lab are typical salaries.

One of the reasons that I don't recommend bundling sleep study interpretation fees with medical director fees is that it makes things "messy" if a 2nd sleep physician (other than the medical director) starts interpreting studies.

There are a lot of legal pitfalls in setting physician compensation, and I recommend consulting with an experienced healthcare attorney familiar with both federal regulations and the laws of your state.

I welcome reader comments regarding this subject