Medical directors' compensation varies by practice ownership

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., May 4, 2010 - Directors in hospital-owned practices in emergency medicine earned $20,000 while their counterparts in nonhospital-owned practices earned $60,000 per year, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Medical Directorship and On-Call Compensation Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data. Family practitioners (with OB/GYN) in hospital-owned practices earned $23,250 and their counterparts in nonhospital-owned practices earned $8,400 annually. Surgical subspecialist directors received $40,000 in both hospital and nonhospital-owned practices.

Compensation for medical directors varied widely across specialties, with the greatest annualized compensation reported for pathology (anatomic and clinical) ($90,000). Only three other specialties reported median compensation levels greater than $50,000: nephrology, pediatrics (neonatal medicine) and surgery (cardiovascular). The majority of medical practices reported median compensation levels of less than $50,000. Hourly rate compensation was more consistent across specialties and indicated how workloads differed among respondents. 

Medical directors who trained as surgical subspecialists reported the greatest annualized compensation ($40,000) followed by nonsurgical subspecialists ($31,200) while directors who trained as primary care physicians were compensated less ($24,000).

Variations in compensation also occurred based on director's responsibilities and hours worked per week. Directors responsible for attending meetings reported dramatically lower compensation levels than directors without this responsibility. Nonsurgical specialist directors who attended meetings were compensated $28,800 while their counterparts without this responsibility earned $50,000 - a difference of $21,200. Responsibilities such as documentation and care planning, physician behavior and impairment, physician education and recruitment yielded differences in annual compensation levels.

"Physicians may be expected to take on directorship responsibilities or on-call coverage as part of their employment terms as employees of the hospital," said Jason Whitmer, CPA, senior manager at Crowe Horwath LLP, and MGMA survey advisory committee member. "Each employment arrangement is unique and determines whether a current employee will provide directorship support or if the hospital will need to acquire help externally for these services. Compensation for directorship duties may already be built into the salaries physicians receive."

Note: MGMA surveys depend on voluntary participation and may not be representative of the industry. Readers are urged to review the entire survey report when making conclusions regarding trends or other observations.

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About MGMA

MGMA is the premier membership association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices. Since 1926, MGMA has delivered networking, professional education and resources, and political advocacy for medical practice management. Today, MGMA's 21,500 members lead 13,700 organizations nationwide in which some 275,000 physicians provide more than 40 percent of the healthcare services delivered in the United States.

MGMA's mission is to continually improve the performance of medical group practice professionals and the organizations they represent. MGMA promotes the group practice model as the optimal framework for healthcare delivery, assisting group practices in providing efficient, safe, patient-focused and affordable care. MGMA is headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and maintains a government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Follow our Twitter list to find out which medical practices are using social media.