Definition: RVU is an acronym that stands for "relative value unit." Some physician employers such as hospitals and groups use an RVU formula to calculate compensation or bonuses for physicians. An RVU is a dollar amount that is assigned to each encounter, procedure, or surgery. The value is standardized, but the way the value is used in the compensation formula may vary from employer to employer. The MGMA tracks RVU values for various physician specialties. These values are included in the annual physician compensation report published by the MGMA.