Pulling Sub Duty: Medical Directors’ Pay and Call Compensation

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Radiologists who held medical directors’ positions with hospitals and health systems collected a median of $32,353 annually, and those who took weekend call earned a median of $2,000 in call compensation, according to a survey¹ conducted and published by the Medical Group Management Association. Medical directors’ compensation, at the low end, was $20,000; at the 90th percentile, it was $122,840.

The specialists with the highest earning power for medical directorships included emergency-department physicians, family physicians, infectious-disease specialists, nephrologists, pathologists, cardiovascular surgeons, and hospitalists. Factors that drove higher compensation were the amount of responsibility that a directorship entailed and the number of hours spent doing this work, as well as responsibility for emergency issues and for the quality and appropriateness of care.

Ownership of the practice was also a factor. Radiologists in practices owned by hospitals or integrated-delivery systems earned a median $25,000 for directorship services, while independent radiologists collected a median of $43,290 annually.

According to the survey results, it paid to head the complaint department: Nonsurgical-subspecialist medical directors responsible for patients’ complaints earned more than twice as much as their peers who were not responsible for patients’ complaints. Most medical directors spent between four and eight hours per week on the associated work; pathologists and family physicians reported spending the most time on their medical-director positions.

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Figure. Median call compensation (daily rate) for selected specialists; adapted from the Medical Group Management Association.¹

Compared with their peers, radiologists received call compensation (see figure) that was on the high end of the scale, at a median of $1,000 per day (or $2,000 per weekend). Only invasive interventional cardiologists (at $2,500), family physicians who handled obstetrics ($2,200), and neurosurgeons (at $2,850) earned higher median rates for weekend call.

Three sources of funding were identified by survey participants: hospital only, medical group only, and hospital plus medical group. It appears, however, that radiology groups primarily are footing this bill, at least in the MGMA sample: The only radiology-compensation segment considered statistically significant by the survey sponsors attributed compensation to the medical group only.

The medical-directorship data were based on 266 completed surveys; the call-compensation findings were based on 308 completed surveys. For more information, contact MGMA Survey Operations at (877) 275-6462, extension 1895.