Physician movement and competition for top talent has caused an “upward spike” in physician payment, according to Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare recruitment firm. The firm’s data from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 show a surge in compensation increases among 19 of 20 specialties it tracks.
Merritt Hawkins has conducted an annual review of clinician compensation placements for 23 years. The results this year are based on 3,342 recruitment assignments.
Some of the results appear below. Percentages are based on comparisons with data from 2014-2015.
Family Medicine up 13%
Psychiatrists up 11%
Dermatology up 13%
Urology up 14%
Otolaryngology up 21%
General surgery up 12%
OB-GYN up 16%
Non-invasive Cardiology* up 77%
Invasive Cardiology up 4%
Orthopedics up 5%
Emergency medicine no change
*This increase may reflect an artificially low figure for 2014-2015.
An executive from Merritt Hawkins noted that it is too soon for the increases to be a result of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. (We reported on MACRA in last week’s newsletter/blog.)
Source of Demand
The report noted that 49 percent of its searches were for hospital positions. A Merritt Hawkins executive said that “the numbers reflect a system still driven by procedure-based reimbursement.” (“Upward Spike in Physician Compensation: Recruiter,” HFMA Weekly, June 24, 2016)
Some hospitals offer additional perks. For example, 20 percent of searches offered medical school loan forgiveness as a bonus, which ranged from $10,000 to $500,000 and averaged $88,000. Just under a third included a quality bonus.
According to the report, quality incentives can make up to 29 percent of a physician’s bonus payment, but only 6 percent of total compensation. The Merritt Hawkins executive noted that a quality incentive has to equal at least 10 percent of compensation to affect behavior. (“Upward Spike in Physician Compensation: Recruiter,” HFMA Weekly, June 24, 2016)
Objections to Report
Some spokespersons from medical specialties have objected to the Merritt Hawkins data, noting it wasn’t derived from a representative sample. They said they prefer the Medical Group Management Association’s annual compensation survey.
Merritt Hawkins defended its report, noting that it is not a survey or opinion but rather a true number based on someone writing a check.
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