Cardiologist salaries trending up for the 5th year in a row

It’s the fifth year in a row and the seventh year out of ten that compensation for cardiologists has increased, according to MedAxiom’s Cardiovascular Provider Compensation and Production Survey report. The report found that, on average, cardiologists are raking in $577,329 per year.

A total of 184 groups, including 2,267 full-time CV physicians and 146 part-time physicians, were surveyed for the seventh edition of MedAxiom’s now-annual report, making for a total sample size of 4,108 physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs). 

“As the healthcare delivery system evolves, it’s crucial that we understand how economics are affected,” MedAxiom President Gerald Blackwell, MD, MBA, wrote in the report. “In recent years, we have increased the focus on populations and value and have added cardiology panel size and non-clinical compensation metrics to adapt to the changing marketplace. This year’s report is more robust than ever.”

In the report, MedAxiom stated that cardiologists’ salaries increased desipite a 2018 MedAxiom member poll prediction that incomes would decrease in 2019. That poll saw nearly 70% of respondents predicting a decline in compensation, regardless of whether they worked for a larger health system or were employed at a private practice. But salaries ultimately rose 3%, to a median total compensation per full-time equivalent (FTE) physician of $577,329.

The jump seemed to benefit cardiologists in private groups the most—employed cardiologists’ numbers remained in line with the previous year while physicians in private groups enjoyed an 8% increase. MedAxiom analysts said the 8% increase could be due in part to some survey bias, but trends in supply and demand and revenue from hospital contracts back the finding.

Mean compensation per FTE in 2018 represents the second-highest total since 2012, according to the report, though private cardiologists seem to earn just under $65,000 less per FTE than their peers in integrated settings. It’s a significant gap but one that’s been reduced by half since a peak in 2013.

Electrophysiologists have once again proven themselves to be the highest earners in cardiology, bringing in an average of $629,641 per FTE. Interventional cardiologists come in second at a median total compensation of $621,090, while general non-invasive physicians continue to see the lowest salaries ($492,733 on average).

Compensation for heart failure specialists, who historically haven’t provided MedAxiom with enough data to publish a salary estimate, made their report debut at an average of $441,845 per FTE—10% lower than general non-invasive cardiologists.

“It will be interesting to watch both of these cardiology subspecialties—HF and general non-invasive—to see if incomes trend upward, as feedback from the MedAxiom community suggests both are in high demand but there are few candidates available,” the report reads. “Adding to this prediction, a recent conversation with a cardiology fellowship program director noted that very few fellows leave as generalists, with the vast majority choosing to continue on into one of the more advanced super subspecialties. This will only exacerbate the shortage for the cardiology generalist.”