Radiologist compensation continues to rise

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More than three-quarters of physician specialties, 77 percent, have enjoyed compensation increases over the past year, and radiology is in that happy mix. Diagnostic rads’ median compensation rose 2.6 percent, from $490,399 in 2016 to $503,225 this year.

That’s according to the annual physician-compensation survey conducted by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), which released its report on the latest results July 19.

The report shows this is the first year radiology’s median compensation rate topped half a million dollars. The only other entrants in that category are cardiac/thoracic surgery ($690,000), cardiology/cath lab ($598,675), orthopedic surgery ($581,092) and gastroenterology ($519,124).

Further, radiology has seen its median compensation rise every year since 2014, when the figure was $476,013.

The same annual bump shows in radiologists’ median weighted relative value units (RVUs), which were at 8,463 in 2014 and topped 9,200 this year.

As for the effects of practice size on compensation, the numbers seem to say that the bigger the practice, the less each rad makes: Groups ranging from one to 300 FTEs earned a median monetary reward of $545,000, while those with 300 or more FTEs earned $493,530.

Meanwhile, radiologists in smaller groups may be working harder or more efficiently, as they reported median work RVUs of 9,780 vs. 9,097 by their peers in larger groups.

Commenting on the overall results, Tom Dobosenski, president of AMGA’s consulting arm, says U.S. physicians are facing increasing financial pressures going forward.

“We are seeing signs of a perfect storm gathering as costs continue to rise, productivity is flat, and collections are flat, with 51 percent of specialties this year reporting a decrease in median net collections,” Dobosenski says in prepared remarks. “These trends are driving enhanced efficiency and consolidation, but the cost curve will only bend so much.”

With 61 percent of groups responding that some of their physicians’ compensation was based on the achievement of value-based measures, Dobosenski adds, “the move to value-based incentives is happening, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated. However, value-based incentives do not lessen the economic pressures on medical groups, as they do not necessarily mean reductions in compensation.”