5 Clarifying Questions to Ask About RVU Model Contracts

6 minute read

Physician contracts can be set up different ways. Some include RVUs (relative value units), some have collections, and some have salaries. The RVU model in particular can be tricky to navigate since it’s less straightforward than a traditional salary-based model.

For example, you might have a physician looking at RVUs and trying to understand the benchmark. If they are paying you $350,000 and setting a 7500 RVU target, how do you know whether that is a good or bad deal?

Let’s look at five clarifying questions that will help you navigate this type of situation.

1. What are others here doing in terms of their numbers?

This helps you understand what the context is. You don’t want to enter into a situation blindly, not knowing what the expectations are, and whether the RVU’s in your contract are in line with what others are doing there.

2. What are your expectations of me in the first, second, and third years?

If 7,000 RVUs is the goal, would hitting that number meet the expectations each year? Or would that be the minimum I would need to exceed in following years? I would recommend getting reports each month, so you know whether you are trending toward hitting that particular number.

3. How do you set your metrics?

Do they just come up with metrics internally? Do they tie it a certain standard such as MGMA, AMGA, Sullivan Cotter, potentially a third-party analysis?

4. What have they done in the past in terms of contracts?

We were negotiating with a neonatology group a while back, and we were told that all physicians are paid the same structure. We asked when the last time they hired was. They said nine years ago.

Sometimes, having those questions be asked of them helps the employer to see, okay, you paid everyone the same, but you have to change it. This might be a really good time to do so. I think that can play into your contract negotiations.

5. Are my RVUs prorated for termination or maternity leave?

For example, if you work for six months but exceed half of the production metrics, do you still get a bonus? Or is it prorated to 3,500 for your time of employment?

For females who take maternity leave, what happens when you’re out for three months and not producing RVUs? Does the compensation structure change?

In summary: These five questions will help you understand how to handle an incentive compensation model such as RVUs. Be sure to ask clarifying questions so you won’t be surprised.

Don’t begin your employment with unanswered questions or issues that may come back to bite you.

Contracts are written in legalese to protect employers and are hard to understand. Doctors don't deserve to get ripped off by their contract. If you have any questions or need help in reviewing your contract, please click below for more information on getting your contract reviewed with a Pattern trusted firm.