Reimbursement in hospital-based vascular surgery: Physician and practice perspective

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The purpose of this study was to determine change in value of a vascular surgery division to the health care system during 6 years at a hospital-based academic practice and to compare physician vs hospital revenue earned during this period.


Total revenue generated by the vascular surgery service line at an academic medical center from 2010 through 2015 was evaluated. Total revenue was measured as the sum of physician (professional) and hospital (technical) net revenue for all vascular-related patient care. Adjustments were made for work performed, case complexity, and inflation. To reflect the effect of these variables, net revenue was indexed to work relative value units (wRVUs), case mix index, and consumer price index, which adjusted for work, case complexity, and inflation, respectively. Differences in physician and hospital net revenue were compared over time.


Physician work, measured in RVUs per year, increased by 4%; case complexity, assessed with case mix index, increased by 10% for the 6-year measurement period. Despite stability in payer mix at 64% to 69% Medicare, both physician and hospital vascular-related revenue/wRVU decreased during this period. Unadjusted professional revenue/wRVU declined by 14.1% (P = .09); when considering case complexity, physician revenue/wRVU declined by 20.6% (P = .09). Taking into account both case complexity and inflation, physician revenue declined by 27.0% (P = .04). Comparatively, hospital revenue for vascular surgery services decreased by 13.8% (P = .07) when adjusting for unit work, complexity, and inflation.


At medical centers where vascular surgeons are hospital based, vascular care reimbursement decreased substantially from 2010 to 2015 when case complexity and inflation were considered. Physician reimbursement (professional fees) decreased at a significantly greater rate than hospital reimbursement for vascular care. This trend has significant implications for salaried vascular surgeons in hospital-based settings, where the majority of revenue generated by vascular surgery care is the technical component received by the facility. Appropriate care for patients with vascular disease is increasingly resource intensive, and as a corollary, reimbursement levels must reflect this situation if high-quality care is to be maintained.

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