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Hottest Job in Healthcare Still Primary Care Physician

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 28, 2013

Compensation Remains a Sore Spot
While family practitioners are in high demand, their average base salaries or guaranteed incomes of $185,000 remain near the bottom. Only pediatricians fared worse with an average base of $179,000.

"A key factor that people have to understand is that primary care is not necessarily growing in salary, but more specialties are coming down closer to them," Mosley says. "We used to talk about cardiologists in the $800,000 to $900,000 range. Now they are in the $500,000s and $600,000s. Also doctors in medical homes can make a heck of a lot more money because they are paid that base salary and they are paid a maintenance fee and they are paid the malady improvement fee. There are ways for doctors to make money. We are going to see it continue to rise."

Seventy-five percent of search assignments this year featured a salary with production bonus. Most such bonuses (57%) are based on a Relative Value Units formula. A growing number of production formulas also feature quality-based metrics. For example, 39% of the search assignments offered production bonuses that featured a quality-based component, up from 35% a year earlier.

By comparison, in 2011, fewer than 7% of recruiting assignments that offered a production bonus included payments based on quality-of-care metrics. In 2013 that number grew to 39%, which Mosley says illustrates the rapid shift away from rewarding physicians for the volume of services they provide and toward rewarding them for the value of services they provide.

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1 comments on "Hottest Job in Healthcare Still Primary Care Physician"


J. Kuriyan (8/28/2013 at 3:40 PM)
In the early days of managed care there was the assertion that "90%" of all medical costs were routed through the PCP - making the PCP a most powerful player in managed care. Not challenging the actual percentage, the point was simply that in managed care all care is channeled through the PCP gatekeeper. This made some of the PCPs quite arrogant in their dealings with specialists in their IPAs and PHOs. Others even formed companies like PHYCOR that had only PCPs as owners. The trouble was that the trillion dollars that PCPs were indirectly responsible never really passed through the PCPs office - and there was never an opportunity to retain even a small part of it. In fact various versions of the Stark Law prohibited any self-aggrandizements. Meaning, PCPs were just tasked with referring the money out to others - clearly not a very powerful piece of the puzzle that was managed care. They continued to toil and they made very little, as before, except now they even have management responsibilities. Repeating the same program won't work any better. What is needed is a way to fully compensate PCPs for preventive care programs - and that will truly be an extra souce of income. Currently wellness programs for big companies cost in excess of $1000 per year. Compare that with what a PCP gets paid by a managed care plan - $200 per year!If part of that $1000 can be paid to a PCP then we will truly see PCPs making a decent wage. But the insurer's won't like that. They'll claim that prevention is part of what PCPs are supposed to offer - and the $200 they get covers it adequately!