Survey: CEOs not always top-paid health executives

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Though healthcare CEO pay has continued to rise, the chief executive may not have a health system’s best paying job, according to a new survey.

Some physician leaders may bring home more bacon than the CEO, according to the 10th Physician Leadership Compensation Survey, conducted by Cejka Executive Search and the American Association for Physician Leadership. The highest-paid members of the C-suite, according to the survey, were those in emerging roles, such as the physician-in-chief, chief "transformational" officer and chief innovation officer.

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The median salary for executives in these roles was $499,000 in 2015, according to the survey, while CEOs earned a median salary of $437,500. Both categories saw a notable increase in the past several years, according to the survey, with CEO pay up 7 percent since 2013 and “emerging roles” seeing a 6 percent increase in that same window.

"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," Paul Esselman, Cejka Executive Search's senior executive vice president and managing director said in an announcement.

Trending Compensation for C-Suite Physician Leaders
(Median compensation 2016 vs. 2013)
Emerging Roles, C-Suite: $499,000 vs. $469,000 (up 6 percent)
Chief Executive Officer/President: $437,500 vs. $410,000 (up 7 percent) 
Chief Medical Officer: $388,000 vs. $365,000 (up 6 percent)
Chief Quality/Patient Safety Officer: $375,000 vs. $375,000
Chief Information Officer/Chief Medical Information Officer: $372,500 vs. $315,000 (up 18 percent)

The largest pay growth was for chief medical officers, who saw salaries jump 18 percent from 2013. CMIOs now earn a median salary of $372,500, according to the survey. The survey, which collected responses from more than 2,300 doctors in July, links this increase to the growing importance of “big data” in healthcare.

The survey also found that physician leaders are taking on more complex roles. More than 60 percent of those who responded to the survey said they had more strategic input in 2015 than the year before, and more than half said they have multiple or shared administrative relationships.

This means, according to the survey, that docs in leadership are having more say in areas such as finance, conflict resolution and strategic planning.