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Economic Pressures Weigh on Specialty Physician Compensation

News  |  By Debra Shute  
   July 20, 2017

While a handful of specialists saw pay increases of 7% or more, compensation stayed fairly flat overall, according to American Medical Group Association consultants.

More than three-quarters (77%) of physician specialists enjoyed increased compensation in 2016, but the overall weighted average increase of 2.9% was slightly lower than the 3.1% bump specialists experienced in 2015, according to a report from AMGA Consulting.

In addition, the AMGA 2017 Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey, representing data for 140 physician specialties and 28 other provider specialties, revealed the specialties experiencing the largest increases were as follows:

  • Ophthalmology surgery (7.7%)
  • Cardiac/thoracic surgery (7%)
  • Hematology and medical oncology (6.7%)
  • Allergy/immunology (5.9%)
  • Pulmonary disease (5.6%)

Related: Why Compensation for Some Medical Specialties Is in Decline

Nonetheless, surgical specialties saw an average increase of 2%, down from 3.6% in 2015. Meanwhile, primary care specialists saw a smaller dip, earning an average increase of 3.2% in 2016 compared to 3.6% in 2015.

“We are seeing signs of a perfect storm gathering as costs continue to rise, productivity is flat, and collections are flat, with 51% of specialties this year reporting a decrease in median net collections,” said Tom Dobosenski, CPA, president of AMGA Consulting.

“These trends are driving enhanced efficiency and consolidation, but the cost curve will only bend so much. With 61% of groups responding that some of their physicians’ compensation was based on the achievement of value-based measures, the move to value-based incentives is happening, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated. However, value-based incentives do not lessen the economic pressures on medical groups, as they do not necessarily mean reductions in compensation.”

Related: Physician Recruiting Woes Build for Rural, Primary Care Physicians

This year’s survey, which also includes RVU data, marks the 30th year of publication of the findings.

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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