Why Compensation for Some Medical Specialties is in Decline

John Commins, June 7, 2017

Compensation for radiology and some other specialties has declined in the past two years, salary data shows. Among the reasons: The competitive market for telemedicine in radiology "has gone bananas."

For the most part, physicians and other high-level clinicians in primary and specialty care are seeing robust compensation increases, according to Merritt Hawkins. Medical doctors in the Midwest, in particular, enjoy among the highest annual average wages.

Nationally, however, physicians in certain specialties are seeing drops in compensation. What's going on?

HealthLeaders Media spoke with Travis Singleton, senior vice president at the Dallas-based physician recruiting firm about the market forces at play. The following is a lightly edited transcript.

HealthLeaders: According to your report, compensation for radiology, dermatology, non-invasive cardiology and anesthesiology has declined in the past two years. What's going on?

Travis Singleton
Travis Singleton

Singleton: The most interesting is the radiology front. You have two worlds there: The traditional man-on-site radiologist working in the hospital basement. And then you have a quickly emerging teleradiology, the fastest growing portion of telehealth.

This is the first year that we have seen the telehealth compensation average beat the traditional compensation average. That goes against a lot of logic that we used to use. The thought was that with telerad there are better economies of scale, you would work anywhere, literally in your living room, and that the cost to get that employee would be less than recruiting someone to work in the middle of nowhere.

Over the past two to three years, however, the competitive market in telerad has gone bananas.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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