An examination of the resource-based relative value scale cross-specialty linkage method

Sally C. Morton, Gerald F. Kominski, James P. Kahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS) was developed by sur-veying panels of physicians from single specialties, then merging the specialty- specific results into a common work scale. The merging process involved two steps: 1) specification of links or equivalent services across specialties: And 2) use of links to align work values from each specialty onto a common scale. This study examines the sensitivity of physician relative values of work (RVWs) to changes in both the specification of links and in the method for aligning specialties. Using the same survey data employed in developing the RBRVS, we calculated new RVWs based on an alternative specification of links and an alternative method for aligning specialties. Total RVWs declined by almost 50% for anesthesiology, and increased by more than 20% for allergists, neurologists, and thoracic surgeons. Most of this change was attributable to our specification of links. We conclude that future use of the linkage procedure employed in developing the RBRVS is not warranted without further research. Instead, efforts to update and revise work values could be based on a common scale of work developed by cross-specialty panels, thus eliminating the need for a linkage procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalMedical care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-specialty linkage
  • Medicare fee schedule
  • Physician payment
  • Physician relative values of work (RVWs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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