46% of radiologists lost income in 2020, with some worried pay may never return to pre-COVID levels

Nearly half of radiologists surveyed said they saw their income decline in 2020, with COVID-19 the major cause. And some are concerned the extra pay may disappear permanently.

The findings are part of a new Medscape survey of more than 700 members of the specialty, published Friday. Average rad pay was $413,000 in 2020, down 3% from the previous survey. About 92% of radiologists cited COVID as the cause, including job loss, reduction in hours, or lower patient volumes.

Roughly 50% of physicians in imaging expect their income to return to pre-COVID levels in the next year, while 35% said it could take a few more turns of the calendar. About 11% believe their pay will never return to the same heights as before the pandemic.

“Many physicians’ offices closed temporarily or saw fewer patients in 2020 due to COVID-19, making it a worrisome year for physician compensation, on top of concerns about well-being of both patients and providers. Radiologists’ practices were not immune,” Medscape reported May 14. “While the worst business days are over for some physicians, others will struggle to recover.”

Radiologists on average earned about $69,000 from incentive bonuses last year, about 18% of total pay and roughly in line with 2019 (17%). On average, rads achieved 83% of their potential pay sweetener, placing the specialty ahead of the overall physician population at 68%. Radiologists said they worked an average of 49 hours per week, in line with the 50 hours put in prior to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the majority of self-employed physicians in imaging (51%) said they believe that 1%-25% of the drop in patient volume during the pandemic is permanent. Another 46% said the drop is only temporary, while 2% said 26%-50% is permanent. About 65% of those surveyed said they feel fairly compensated, placing radiology at sixth on the list, with oncologists leading the way at 79%.

You can read more from the 2021 Medscape Radiologist Compensation Report here, and find our coverage of overall doc compensation here.

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