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Survey: 74 Percent of Physician Specialties Saw Increased Compensation in 2015

July 20, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Average physician compensation increased 3.1 percent in 2015, with 74 percent of physician specialties experiencing increases, according to the latest AMGA Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey.

According to the survey, conducted by AMGA Consulting, overall, physicians saw their compensation levels remain relatively flat compared to the 2.8 percent increase in compensation from 2013 to 2014.

The AMGA Consulting data on medical group compensation and productivity represents responses from 260 medical groups, representing more than 92,000 providers. The data is representative of large multispecialty medical groups and integrated health systems.

The survey findings indicate that primary care specialists saw an increase of 3.6 percent, up from a decrease of 0.3 percent in 2014. For primary care specialists, the weighted average change in median work relative value units (RVUs) from 2015 to 2016 dropped by 0.3 percent.

According to the AMGA survey, work RVUs are total relative value units as measured by the work resource based relative value scale (RBRVS), not weighted by a conversion factor attributed to ambulatory care, inpatient care, or other professional services performed by each physician, using the 2015 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) scale. A work relative value unit is a non-monetary unit of measure that indicates the professional value of services provided by a physician or allied healthcare professional.

Other medical specialties saw an average compensation increase of 3 percent in 2015, comparable to 3.2 percent in 2014, while the median work RVUs increased slightly by 0.4 percent, according to the survey report. And, surgical specialties saw an average compensation increase of 3.6 percent, up from 2 percent in 2014. The weighted average change in median work RVUs from 2015 to 2016 for surgical specialties actually decreased by 0.4 percent.

For all radiology, anesthesiology, and pathology specialties, average compensation increased slightly more than 1 percent in 2015, while median work RVUs for these specialties increased by 2.8 percent.

Emergency medicine physicians saw the largest compensation increase in 2015, at 9.6 percent, followed by cardiac/thoracic surgery with an 8.1 percent compensation increase. Other medical specialties experiencing larger increases in compensation in 2015 were cardiology (6.9 percent), and hypertension and nephrology (6.7 percent).

“Once again this year, we see that physician compensation in general has remained relatively flat, with an average increase around 3 percent,” Donald Fisher, Ph.D., AMGA president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. “We’ve seen peaks in certain specialties, and dips in others, and much of this reflects the cyclical nature of healthcare economics.”

However, Fisher notes that with the movement to value-based incentives for care, the delivery model is changing to a more team-based approach. “It will be interesting to watch compensation trends over the next few years as these value-based models become more prevalent,” he said.

“One basic tenet of any compensation system is that it allows an organization to successfully recruit and retain talent necessary to carry out the work of the organization,” Tom Dobosenski, president of AMGA Consulting, said in a statement. “In order to do so, most AMGA member organizations believe that physician compensation systems must offer the opportunity for physicians to earn market rates of compensation for market rates of effort or output. This survey is a tool our members use to evaluate whether their plans are market-based by comparing their performance to others”

The AMGA 2016 Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey presents data for 138 physician specialties and 31 other provider specialties. The survey provides data on compensation, net collections, work RVUs, and compensation-to-productivity ratios. 


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