The American Association of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE) is one source for answers to these questions and more. Each year, practice administrators who belong to the AAOE are asked to participate in an Orthopaedic Practice Benchmarking Survey.

AAOS Now

Published 1/1/2009
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Carolyn Rogers

How does your practice measure up?

AAOE can help you “benchmark” against others

Your six-physician orthopaedic group isn’t in serious financial trouble, but income has remained flat for a number of years. With declining reimbursements and soaring overhead costs, you’re really not surprised.

Before you shrug your shoulders and return to the operating room, ask yourself: How does your practice performance match up with other practices in the region? Are they experiencing the same difficulties, or do they know something you don’t? What can you do better?

Invaluable data source
“The 2009 survey of 2008 data will be our most comprehensive benchmarking survey to date,” says Julie Kahlfeldt, executive director of AAOE. “The online benchmarking report provides orthopaedic executives with significant data to help better manage their practices.”

Practice executives who complete the survey will receive a summary report that helps to identify their practices’ strengths and weaknesses, improve operations, trim costs, and enhance practice value.

Members of the AAOE have access to a free online survey report, so they can compare their practice with others by subspecialty, region, practice size, and other data sets. The report provides current data on practice finances and operations, including operating costs, staffing, compensation levels, and revenues.

Participation “essential”
“The AAOE has administered this survey in some form for many years,” Ms. Kahlfeldt says, “but the information is more valuable now—especially the data on physician salaries.”

The 2008 survey will soon be launched, and the online report will be updated in mid-April—nearly 6 months earlier than in previous years. After the report is issued in April, the database is continuously updated throughout the year as more surveys are completed.

Approximately 20 percent of the organization’s 1,500 members currently participate in the AAOE survey. More than 1,200 physicians are represented.

It’s essential to keep building this unique orthopaedic-specific database of practice performance, says Ms. Kahlfeldt. “We’re really encouraging our members to take part in the survey this year. The more practices that participate, the more statistically reliable the data.”

Completing the survey
AAOE members can visit the Web site (
www.aaoe.net) to get started. All data are guaranteed secure; each participating orthopaedic practice is assigned a unique identification code.

Information collected through the AAOE Orthopaedic Practice Benchmarking Survey falls into three broad categories—practice administrators, physicians, and practice operations.

The survey itself is divided into nine sections, including general practice data, administrator data, physician data, total revenue, total expenses, accounts receivable, payer mix information, and ancillary services.

Information that is entered into the system is automatically saved and stored, even if the individual entering the data closes a browser or exits the survey. Entered data remain accessible and can be changed until the completed survey is submitted for analysis.

Complete results of the survey are free to AAOE members; if your practice administrator isn’t a member, you can purchase the results by calling toll-free (800) 247-9699.

Carolyn Rogers is a staff writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at rogers@aaos.org

Did you know…

  • Of the 1,136 physicians represented in the 2007 AAOE Orthopaedic Practice Benchmarking Survey, 73 percent are partners/owners and 27 percent are employees/contractors.
  • Average total compensation for partners/owners per FTE (full-time equivalent) is $597,901; physicians who are employees/contractors receive average compensation per FTE of just $362,271.
  • Five percent of reported physicians are female.
  • One out of four (26 percent) responding practices has at least one female physician.
  • Overall, the mean physician compensation is 19 percent of gross billed charges, regardless of practice size or location (region).
  • The median number of office visits per physician FTE is 3,336 a year.
  • Physicians with 2,000 or fewer office visits report the lowest average compensation ($372,752). Physicians with more than 4,000 visits report the highest average compensation ($662,236).