Pays to be in private practice for medical directors

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Compensation to physicians for medical directorships in non-hospital-owned group practices is greater than in hospital-owned practices for all specialties except primary care, according to a new survey from the Medical Group Management Association's (MGMA).

In August 2008, MGMA collected responses from more than 700 directorships at approximately 2,500 providers in more than 200 medical organizations for its Medical Directorship/On Call Compensation Survey: 2009 Report Based on 2008 Data.

The greatest discrepancy was among nonsurgical specialists in non-hospital-owned practices who received $27,400 more annually than their counterparts in hospital-owned practices, according to the survey. Compensation also varied greatly across specialties, with geriatricians receiving the highest annualized compensation of $172,121, according to the findings.

Across all specialty classifications, recruitment and physician education responsibilities yielded the highest compensation, according to the respondents. Physician education duties increased primary care compensation by 82 percent; surgical and nonsurgical specialists reported compensation increases above 100 percent.

In apparent response to the shortage of primary care physicians, primary care medical directors with recruitment responsibilities exhibit the greatest variation in annualized compensation: a reported $27,430 compared with $13,980 for directors without recruitment responsibilities. Most medical directors spent approximately five hours per week on directorship duties, regardless of practice ownership.

"There is a dearth of information on what it means to be a medical director. It appears that there are discrepancies among specialties, areas of responsibility, and subsequently, compensation. We are trying to reveal the standards of directorships for our members, who have requested these data for some time," said William F. Jessee, MD, president and CEO of MGMA.