Key Findings from MD Ranger's 2017 Physician Compensation Benchmarks

Key findings from MD Ranger's 2017 physician compensation benchmarks include:

  • Per diem call coverage rates grew an average of 5% over last year while median annual payments for medical directorships rose 13%.
  • A number of call coverage services saw significant increases in the percentage of MD Ranger subscribers paying for the service. Orthopedic call coverage grew from 53% to 83% of MD Ranger hospitals paying for the service. Ophthalmology coverage grew from 27% to 52% paying for the service. Pediatrics and Cardiology/STEMI also experienced upticks: both services jumped 19 percentage points from 27% to 46% and 24% to 43%, respectively.
  • Over the past five years, medical director median annual payments for surgical specialties have declined. In 2012, the median annual payment for surgical specialties was $82,700. This year, it was $61,050. The decline could be the result of more small hospitals starting to pay for directorships that previously were only paid at large programs. Median annual payments for medical specialists declined less, decreasing from $55,000 in 2012 to $54,000 in 2017.
  • The bifurcation of hospital vs. office-based medicine continues to be reflected in hospital-based specialty growth. In 2012, MD Ranger reported benchmarks for 10 hospital-based specialties; this year, it reported 20, including psychiatric hospitalists and OB laborist programs. More evidence of the impact of pay-for-performance is the increase in hospital-based agreements that include incentive payments, growing from 28% in 2016 to 39% in 2017.

Additionally, a growing number of health care organizations pay physicians for case/care management and quality initiatives, likely an outgrowth of pay-for-performance initiatives. In 2016, 17% of MD Ranger subscribers paid for case/care management, in 2017 that figure jumped to 51%. The 75th percentile for annual payments in 2016 was $81,290 and in 2017 it is $104,480. IT/EHR payments to physicians also continue to grow.

Given uncertainty around reimbursement and physician incomes, hospitals and health care organizations continue to spend more money paying physicians for non-clinical duties like taking emergency call, serving as medical directors, or taking on administrative roles. Despite the growth in hospital-sponsored physician employment, hospital expenditures for call coverage, leadership positions, medical directorships, hospitalists, and committee/meeting attendance continue to grow in scope and amount.

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