Sara M. Larch, MSHA, FACMPE
When Relative Value Units (RVUs) were first created, medical groups used them only to understand the Medicare fee schedule. Medical groups have been using RVUs since they were adopted by Medicare in 1992. A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Harvard University created the Resource-Based Relative Value System (RBRVS) in a national study. In 1988, the results were submitted to the Health Care Financing Administration (today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS]) to be used in the Medicare system as a payment methodology. The RBRVS system took effect on January 1, 1992. Now 20 years later, the role of RVUs has expanded. RVUs are the standard measurement in analysis of reimbursement and payer contracts, physician compensation and productivity, and practice staffing and operating costs. Using RVUs to evaluate your group improves the analysis because RVUs are not impacted by how the medical group sets its fees, how much money is collected, which payer the patient has, or where the service was provided. RVUs are not perfect, but they are the best measure we have.