Compensation for Physician Execs Sees Slow Growth

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 11, 2013

A further breakdown of the survey data showed that physician-executives spend an average of 68% of their time on their administrative responsibilities, with 26% spent on clinical work, and 3% on research. Within the C-Suite, that allocation is much higher, with chief medical officers averaging about 89% of their time on administrative duties.

"We are seeing more physicians enter into the top C-suite roles," Esselman says. "You are seeing them as CEO, chief integration and chief strategy officer; the top-level positions within organizations that are helping to drive the strategy. We are seeing those numbers grow every year. The reason why we will see compensation increases for physicians is simply because physicians are getting into more of those positions of greater responsibility, especially when they are looking at quality, safety and patient satisfaction, everything that drives the success of the organization."

It also appears that the time spent on administrative duties is reflected in the paycheck. Esselman says median compensation for administrative duties for all physician executives went from $39,944 for those spending 25% or less of their time in administration to $340,000 for those who allocated 100% of their time. C-suite executives spending 100% of their time on administrative duties reported the highest median compensation, $535,000.

Physician-executives holding post-graduate management degrees saw a 10% difference in median compensation when compared with their physician colleagues with no post-management degrees. The difference is even more pronounced at the C-Suite level, with a 7% to 28% difference in median compensation between those holding a master's in business administration and those with no post-graduate management degree.

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