10 key trends in physician executive pay — C-suite reaches $499k

Cejka Executive Search partnered with the American Association for Physician Leadership to produce the Physician Leadership Compensation Survey.

"Given healthcare reform and the continued attention on costs, including executive compensation, we don't expect physician leader compensation to return to pre-recession growth rates anytime soon," said Paul Esselman, Cejka's senior executive vice president and managing director. "However, there are emerging roles in response to the shift toward value-based care that provide physician leaders with significantly greater opportunities for earnings, as well as strategic input and organizational influence."

Here are 10 key statistics from the survey:

1. The median compensation for physician leaders in 2016 was $350,000, up 8 percent over the last survey in 2013. However, the growth is behind the two-year growth rates of 12 percent reported in 2007.

2. The highest-paid physician executives earn around $499,000 on average for their roles as physician in chief, chief strategy officer, chief transformational officer, chief innovation officer and chief integration officer. The compensation jumped 6 percent over the same period last year.

3. The average compensation for physician CEOs or presidents rose 7 percent from 2013 to 2016, hitting $437,500.

4. Chief medical officer average compensation was up 6 percent in 2016, reaching $388,000. The chief quality or patient safety officer reported flat compensation from 2013 to 2016 at $375,000.

5. Chief information officers or chief medical information officers reported the highest jump, 18 percent, to $372,500 in 2016. The increase in compensation can be attributed to the shift from EMR implementation to ensuring the data can be used to support preventative care at the individual provider level and risk-based accountable care at the enterprise level.

6. Physicians who work at the health system's corporate or parent-level saw an average 67 percent spike in median income from 2013 to 2017.

7. Physician leaders without a post graduate degree reported 13 percent more in compensation while certified physician executives saw a 4 percent compensation increase. The physicians who allocated more time to administration and reported that performance-based pay was a higher percentage of total compensation, earned more.

8. Physician leaders serving as president of the medical staff or medical director, assistant or associate reported a 26 percent gain in compensation. Additionally, the number of survey respondents in these positions jumped from 5 percent in 2013 to 8 percent in 2016.

9. There were 61 percent of physician leaders who reported having strategic input over the previous year, and 54 percent who reported having multiple or shared administrative reporting relationships.

10. Among the physician leaders who have administrative reporting relationships, 49 percent are administratively accountable for multiple people and 29 percent have shared direct reports. The skills most likely to enhance the physician leader's job performance are financial analysis, change management, strategic planning, population health management, physician engagement and conflict resolution.

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