Glossary of Healthcare Operations Terms

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Physician Contracts

What are Physician Contracts?

Physician contracts are specialized legal agreements between healthcare organizations and physicians that outline terms of employment, compensation, duties, and responsibilities. Unlike typical employment contracts, these agreements address unique aspects of medical practice, such as compliance with healthcare regulations (e.g., Stark Law, Anti-Kickback Statute), specific patient care responsibilities, on-call duties, and requirements for continuing medical education (CME).

In what context are Physician Contracts applicable?

Negotiating contracts with physicians to define compensation, benefits, work schedule, and performance expectations, ensuring mutual understanding and regulatory compliance.

Reviewing contracts with specialist physicians to align with Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute, preventing legal issues and ensuring ethical practices.

Including clauses for CME requirements to maintain licenses and stay updated with medical advancements, ensuring high standards of care.

Specifying on-call duties and patient care responsibilities to prevent misunderstandings and ensure smooth operations within the healthcare facility.

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Frequently asked questions

What is included in a physician contract?
A physician contract typically includes details such as job responsibilities, compensation structure (including base salary, bonuses, and benefits), work schedule, termination clauses, non-compete agreements, malpractice insurance coverage, and any specific duties or expectations related to patient care, administrative tasks, or research responsibilities.
How long are most physician contracts?
They typically range from 1 to 3 years, although the specific length may vary based on factors such as type of employment (e.g. temporary, permanent), specialty, healthcare organization policies, and negotiation between the physician and the employer. Some contracts may also include provisions for renewal or termination with notice periods specified within the contract terms.
What legal considerations should be addressed in physician contracts?
Contracts should address legal considerations such as compliance with federal and state healthcare laws (e.g, Stark Law, Anti-Kickback Statute), HIPAA regulations, licensure requirements, malpractice liability, termination clauses, and non-compete agreements. Contracts should be reviewed by legal experts familiar with healthcare law to ensure compliance and protect both parties.
How are compensation and benefits structured in physician contracts?
Compensation and benefits in physician contracts vary based on factors such as specialty, experience, geographic location, and healthcare organization type (e.g., private practice, hospital-employed). Compensation may include base salary, productivity incentives, signing bonuses, relocation allowances, retirement plans, health insurance, and other fringe benefits tailored to attract and retain qualified physicians.
What is the negotiation process for physician contracts?
The negotiation process typically involves discussions between the physician and the healthcare organization's representatives, such as human resources, legal counsel, or medical leadership. Negotiable terms may include compensation, work schedule, call coverage, benefits, contract length, and provisions related to professional development or academic opportunities.