Knowing average salaries for individual markets key to negotiation, practice-management expert says
by Richard Quinn
The first wave of fiscal year 2010 (FY10) provider data from SHM-MGMA shows that hospitalist salaries and productivity appear to have to have crept up only slightly from the previous year.
The national median annual salary for internal-medicine hospitalists seeing adult patients is $220,144, up from $215,000 in FY09, a 2.4% increase. For pediatric hospitalists, the 2010 salary was $171,617, up from $160,038 in FY09, a 7% increase. Work RVUs for both categories saw even smaller increases: 4,174 for internal-medicine hospitalists (up 1.8%) and 1,976 for pediatric hospitalists (up 0.02%).
By comparison, the increase from SHM's 2007-2008 survey to 2009's salary data set from SHM-MGMA was 9%. SHM cautions against drawing too many conclusions from comparisons with older figures, as the population universes are different. However, Leslie Flores, MHA, SHM senior advisor for practice management, says that anecdotally, the data suggest the field is hitting a fiscal plateau.
"What I get out of this is both compensation and productivity appear to be leveling off somewhat," Flores says. "We're not seeing the big increases from year to year we have seen historically."
The data are publicly available as of today, even though snippets of the survey results were previewed at HM11 last month in Grapevine, Texas. The preview, however, only showed regional figures. Academic hospitalist data was removed from the study this year, as that provider universe now has its own survey.
Flores says it's hard to pin down exactly why increases in both salaries and productivity are slowing. It could be the natural evolution of the relatively young field, or it could be a narrowing of the supply-demand gap for hospitalists.
The data being released today serve as the foundation for the annual State of Hospital Medicine report, scheduled for release in September. That expanded data set will feature HM-centric data points including CPT code distribution, group leader compensation, and administrative time allocation and compensation and productivity for nocturnists. Until then, Flores says, hospitalists should consider data points like the ones currently available as key negotiating and practice-management guideposts. But national data only go so far.
"Even the regional numbers don't reflect what the individual numbers are in individual markets. You need to know what the hospitalist down the street is making," she says.
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