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Considerations for Paying Physicians to Attend Meetings

Paying physicians a stipend to attend meetings is a fairly common practice; however, it involves a significant amount of regulatory risk when the parties refer business to one another. There are numerous issues to address before defining payment structures for physician participation in advisory boards, leadership panels, and committee meetings. Health systems and hospitals may benefit from implementing a standard evaluation tool with parameters around how, when, and how much physicians should be paid for meeting attendance. Such a tool should provide documented guidance for the fair market value determination process and relevant independence and oversight factors.



The following list of considerations can be used as a starting point in thinking through the factors at play when physicians receive compensation for attending meetings.


Initially, it is helpful to consider the nature of the entity/hospital, the resources involved, and the relevant service line/department:

  • Is a meeting payment structure appropriate, given the size/scope of the entity?

  • Is a specific purpose for the meetings clearly identified and defined?

  • Are the meetings reasonably necessary to accomplish a legitimate business purpose?


Secondly, it may be beneficial to address the physician attendee selection process:

  • Have objective selection criteria been developed for the physician participants that are unrelated to their ability to generate referrals?

  • Have the credentials, training, and experience that distinguish the physician attendees been documented?


Ultimately, consider the nature of the meetings themselves and the effort required of physician participants:

  • Are meetings held in venues that would be deemed appropriate based on local standards and perceptions?

  • Is the agenda narrowly tailored to meet the specific purpose of the meeting?

  • Is active participation required of attendees?

  • Are meeting attendees expected to take responsibility for meeting content, leading and participating in discussions, making recommendations, and following up on initiatives?

  • Are meeting materials provided ahead of time to enable preparation?


Finally, define the documentation to be maintained, the payment structure, specific as to compensable time, and outline the process to evaluate stipends over time:

  • Is attendance tracked (documented), and are physicians only paid for actual time spent in attendance at meetings?

  • Has the arrangement eliminated any payment for downtime, including significant breaks and non-working meals?

  • Does the hospital/system conduct regular performance assessments to determine whether existing meeting stipends should be reduced or eliminated?

  • Does the entity maintain a formal process for evaluating meeting stipends for fair market value and commercial reasonableness?

 

BFMV provides fair market value and commercial reasonableness opinions for compensation paid to physicians for meeting attendance and participation. Contact us for more information.

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