The AMA Policy Research Perspective (PRP) was recently released, based on the data from the AMA’s 2012, 2014 and 2106 Physician Practice Benchmark Surveys.
How Doctors Get Paid
A survey from 2016 shows that slightly more than half of overall compensation came from salary in 2016, one-third came from personal productivity, and the remainder in lesser degrees from practice financial performance, bonuses, and other sources. The major change over past years is that multiple methods of payments are on the rise, meaning that overall income was a mixture of the sources identified. In other words, while salary is still a large part of income, there has been a shift to other factors, including productivity.
Differences Across Practice Type and Ownership
Salary is the leading compensation method for those who work in medical schools and faculty practice plans. For those doctors working in single or multi-specialty practices, compensation was more weighted toward productivity. Salary also accounted for a larger share of compensation when comparing owners to employees (69.9% vs 30.1%, respectively). Conversely, practice owners had a larger share of their compensation based on productivity compared to employees (44.7% vs 22.3%). There were some phsyicians who were ‘salary-based only’, ranging from 41% of psychiatrists on the low end to 12% of surgeons on the lower end. For Obstetrics and Gynecology, 19.2% reported salary only and 23.2 % productivity only, with the remainder a mix of various compensation methods.
What is Salary Based On?
Physicians most often mentioned physician specialty, time worked in practice and prior year productivity as the key drivers of determining salary. The report also looked at patient satisfaction scores. Overall, 15.3% of physicians reported that their salaries were partially based on these scores. These results can play an important role in recruitment of physicians, geographical location of practice, practice dynamics, group-member relations, and long-term earnings prospects. The study did not break down its results by gender. Gender-based salary disparity exists across all medical specialties.
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