Key surveys give mixed messages on pay hikes in ’01, direction of market in ’02

Key surveys give mixed messages on pay hikes in ’01, direction of market in ’02

Christmas in this hot summer? In the physician compensation and production data field, Christmas has come this year in July and August, with several key sources, including the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), making full or preliminary releases of their annual benchmarking surveys.

Several data sources, notably MGMA, responded to users’ desire for fresher data by producing their reports earlier in the year, in part by collecting some respondents’ information online. Most of last year’s key releases in the field came in September and October (PCR 11/01, p. 1).

Unlike last year’s surveys, which gave a pretty consistent message that 2000 had brought larger income increases for most specialties than 1999 had, the new reports give out mixed messages on 2001 compared with 2000. The source organizations also have different takes on how well the market for physicians is doing this year, and what direction it’s likely to take in the near future. Here’s a summary of their findings:

* AMGA. Physician pay hikes accelerated in most specialties during 2001, the trade group reports (see p. 3). While compensation still is rising this year, AMGA CEO Donald Fisher, Ph.D.–like MGMA CEO William Jessee, M.D.–warns that the pay direction could change in response to the 5.4% cut in Medicare reimbursement and many other pressures on practices’ bottom lines. Both organizations are lobbying for a change in the update formula for the RVU dollar conversion factor.

* MGMA. According to a preliminary data release, physician pay hikes decelerated moderately in 2001 from 2000, although in most non-primary specialties, pay hikes accelerated in 2001. Notably, both 2000 and 2001 pay benefited from large hikes in the Medicare RVU dollar value (see p. 5).

* Merritt, Hawkins & Associates. This Dallas recruiting firm says lower pay increases occurred in most specialties in 2001-02 compared with 2000-01. But a firm executive reports that pay boosts in several specialties are accelerating this year (see p. 6).

* Martin, Fletcher. This Irving, Texas, recruiting firm cannot compare 2002 with 2001 changes because its market condition report is only in its second year. Like Merritt, Hawkins, it says pay hikes in several specialties are accelerating this year (see p. 7).

COPYRIGHT 2002 Atlantic Information Services, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group