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Physician Compensation Increased 0.12% in 2020, AMGA Survey Report Says

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   August 20, 2021

The trade association's survey report reflects the negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on medical groups.

Physician compensation increased at a very modest rate in 2020, according to a survey report published by AMGA.

Physician compensation was impacted significantly last year by the coronavirus pandemic. Many physicians who had their compensation linked to productivity took a financial hit from the pandemic, with declines in patient office visits and other disruptions such as suspensions of elective surgery across the country.

The AMGA survey report is based on data collected from 398 medical groups representing about 190,000 clinicians. The survey report has several key data points.

  • Overall physician compensation increased 0.12% in 2020, down significantly from the 3.79% increase that AMGA reported for 2019.
     
  • Overall physician productivity decreased 10.17% in 2020, down dramatically from the 0.56% increase reported for 2019.
     
  • In primary care, 2020 median compensation for all specialties increased 0.40% and median productivity fell 10.63%. In 2019, median compensation increased 4.46% and median productivity increased 0.44%.
     
  • In medical specialties, 2020 median compensation for all specialties increased 0.39% and median productivity decreased 10.81%. In 2019, median compensation increased 3.52% and median productivity increased 0.9%.
     
  • In surgical specialties, 2020 median compensation decreased 0.84%.
     
  • Primary care nurse practitioner compensation increased 1.29%.
     
  • Primary care physician assistant compensation decreased 1.85%.
     
  • Orthopedic surgery posted the highest 2020 median specialty compensation at $631,900, followed by gastroenterology at $542,948, and general cardiology at $532,781.
     
  • General pediatrics and adolescent medicine posted the lowest 2020 median specialty compensation at $257,432.
     
  • For the 170 medical groups that indicated how base salary for physicians is determined, 90% reported that market salary data is the primary determinant.

The survey report reflects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on physician compensation, according to an AMGA prepared statement. "Though the survey, conducted by AMGA Consulting, found very modest increases in compensation, there were significant decreases in productivity, which can be directly tied to the pandemic. The data reveals the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 on healthcare provider organizations and indicates that they may need to rethink their compensation models in order to remain resilient in the face of future disruptions."

In a prepared statement, AMGA Consulting President Fred Horton, MHA, said the trends in the survey report are associated with flat compensation and a stark decrease in service volume.

"Medical groups paid a steep price to retain their physician talent, even though productivity steeply declined. COVID-19 highlighted the need for medical groups and health systems to reconsider their compensation plans so that they rely less on obligatory annual pay increases and more on incentivizing productivity that rewards valuable outcomes. The shift to more value-based compensation models will help organizations become more resilient against future economic downturns," he said.

Related: Physician Employment Market Stabilizing, Recruitment Executive Says

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Overall physician productivity decreased 10.17% in 2020, down dramatically from the 0.56% increase AMGA reported for 2019.

Orthopedic surgery posted the highest 2020 median specialty compensation at $631,900, followed by gastroenterology at $542,948, and general cardiology at $532,781.


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