For immediate release on November 3, 2016

ECG Management Consultants 2016 Physician Compensation Survey Reveals Continued Upward Trend in Compensation; Productivity Not Keeping Pace

St. Louis, MO – November 3, 2016 – ECG Management Consultants, a national consulting firm working exclusively with healthcare providers, has released the results of its 2016 Physician Compensation Survey. Once again, overall compensation for primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists has increased, although not as substantially as last year. In 2016, compensation for PCPs and specialists increased by 1.5% and 3.6%, respectively. More significant is the change in WRVUs. In contrast to the previous year’s slight increase, in 2016 WRVUs decreased by 3.6% for PCPs and 1.2% for specialists. The net effect of increased compensation and fewer WRVUs is a 6.0% increase in compensation per WRVU for primary care and 7.4% increase for specialists, significant gains compared to recent years.

With the recent release of the MACRA final rule, provider compensation is an especially salient topic for healthcare organizations. “MACRA represents the most significant change to provider reimbursement since implementation of WRVUs. Taken within the context of CMS’s pledge to tie 90% of payments to value by the end of 2018, MACRA is a true game-changer,” said Josh Halverson, ECG Principal and head of the firm’s Provider Compensation practice.

While WRVUs remain the most common indicator used to incentivize physicians, most healthcare organizations have been preparing for the shift to value by incorporating non-production-based incentives into compensation plans. “In 2016, we see an uptick in variable compensation, with more performance indicators based on quality, patient satisfaction, panel size, and adherence to evidence-based medicine. A majority of respondents confirmed they have modified or are planning to modify their compensation models to incorporate value-based metrics,” added Halverson.

ECG’s Physician Compensation Survey is the most comprehensive provider performance study in the healthcare industry. The survey, now in its 17th year, reports detailed compensation and productivity data based on responses from more than 26,000 healthcare providers across the country, including more than 5,500 advanced practice providers (APPs), with benchmarks from 91 specialties. In addition to collecting and reporting on compensation and production, ECG’s survey assesses a multitude of factors that affect a provider’s performance and ability to generate income, including compensation planning methodologies, provider benefits, recruiting, retention, operating policies, and healthcare IT practices.

Other key findings from this year’s survey include the following:

  • Compensation increased for APPs in 2016. Nurse practitioner (NP) compensation increased by 10.7% over 2015; nonsurgical physician assistant (PA) compensation increased by 4.4%, while surgical PA compensation increased by 3.1%. Survey members continue to implement patient care models that employ these APPs to extend physician reach and deliver more efficient, high-quality care.
  • Consistent with 2015, the number of organizations measuring quality is growing, with 62% of survey respondents reporting that quality measures are part of their providers’ variable compensation calculation. This is a 5% increase over 2015.
  • A majority of survey respondents (54%) are participating in a Medicare ACO program, and 27% have been participating for more than one year. Further evidence of the shift to value is the 36% of organizations that report current participation in Medicare risk programs, and the 40% participating in Medicare and/or Medicaid value-based programs.
  • PCPs continue to be the most heavily recruited providers; 31% of open positions are within primary care specialties, while an additional 12% are urgent care positions. Recruiting challenges have lessened for primary care, while demand for psychiatry and neurology physicians has grown.
  • Benefits expense as a percentage of compensation for physicians increased in 2016 to $48,392 per physician, representing 16.5% of compensation. Conversely, benefits expense per FTE and as a percentage of compensation decreased for APPs.

Survey Methodology

ECG’s Physician Compensation Survey and Pediatric Subspecialty Physician Compensation Survey analyze and report information from more than 34,000 healthcare providers representing 142 physician specialties and 17 APP types across the nation. The surveys contain critical provider performance trends such as physician compensation methodologies, compensation and production benchmarks, primary care panel size, CPT procedure code distributions, physician and APP benefit trends, and additional key performance metrics (e.g., work standards, recruiting/turnover rates by specialty, patient access). This information, coupled with ECG’s interpretation of market trends, enables survey members to assess their performance relative to the competitive local market.

ECG’s surveys can be accessed via ECGVault, a proprietary online benchmarking website made available exclusively to the 80 member organizations of the 2016 Physician Compensation Survey.

About ECG

ECG is a strategic consulting firm that is leading healthcare forward using the knowledge and expertise built over the course of four decades to help clients see clearly where healthcare is going and to navigate toward success. With deep expertise in strategy, finance, operations, and technology, ECG builds multidisciplinary teams to meet the unique needs of every client – from discrete operational issues to bigger-picture strategic and financial challenges. Working as trusted partners with hospitals, health systems, medical groups, academic medical centers, children’s hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and healthcare payors across the country, ECG delivers smart counsel and pragmatic solutions to the critical challenges facing healthcare providers. ECG’s national presence includes offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.