Overhead Surveys Completed – Preliminary Results

June 18, 2018

Dr. Neil D.J. Cooper, AMA President

Hello Members:

Keeping up with overhead costs is a major part of maintaining viable practices today. Members are always concerned with the ever-present pressures of overhead costs and that’s why overhead is one of the Board’s priorities for allocation – and why it’s important to measure it accurately. We need a measurement tool that reflects modern practice today, but can also be updated with emerging information over time.

As you are likely aware, the AMA co-funded an initiative with Alberta Health to improve our collective understanding of physician overhead expenses. Deloitte was commissioned by the Physician Compensation Committee to develop and present a survey to Alberta’s physicians and the data collection phase of this initiative is now complete. I am pleased to inform you that of the 9,686 physicians that were originally sent the survey, 1,949 completed and submitted their response to Deloitte. This number represents approximately 20.1% of our membership.

Below is a chart indicating the number of complete surveys submitted to Deloitte by section. Note: these are preliminary figures as Deloitte is still in the process of determining final numbers (e.g., sorting through duplicate submissions, etc.):

One thing we heard loud and clear during this exercise was that the survey was time consuming and complicated. The Board absolutely recognized that fact. We know, though, that there is so much variation between practices (even within specialties) that a high-resolution approach was necessary.

Complexity may have kept completion rates low at the outset and that is why we extended the deadlines by three weeks. In the end, we are satisfied with the final completion rates. More physicians completed this overhead survey than in 2009 when we ran the Physician Business Costs Study survey – which had a final completion rate of 16%.

Deloitte is in the process of reviewing the responses from a completeness and accuracy perspective and, from there, we will move into the validation phase. The validation process is being handled by Deloitte and is under the direction of the PCC. The further validation will conclude by creating a ‘model office’ for each section, as well as integrating the results with the Business Costs Model. Once the validation process has concluded, we will publish the results for all members to review.

Overall, we are confident that this information will help inform future allocations, including any negotiations for fee-for-service and Alternative Relationship Plan physicians, distributions arising from the Income Equity Initiative, fee relativity projects such as the new Standardized INRV project and any future PCC fee reviews.

I want to thank all members who completed and submitted their surveys. I also want to recognize and thank section leaders who encouraged their members to complete the survey by providing explanatory information and support.

We will continue to keep the membership updated and informed as we move through this process.

Your feedback is welcome as always. You can reach me in the usual three ways:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: president@albertadoctors.org.  
  • Comment publicly below on this President’s Letter.
  • Share your perspectives with colleagues in our Discussion Board for members only (member log in required).

At your service,

Neil D.J. Cooper, MD, FRCPC, Dip. Sport Med.

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