Productivity fell flat, but cardiology compensation increased in 2018

Cardiology compensation jumped 4.4% while productivity remained relatively stagnant between 2017 and 2018, AMGA reported in its 32nd annual Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey.

The survey’s results, published Aug. 27, reflected an overall 2.92% increase in physician compensation in 2018—a significantly higher surge than the 0.89% increase the previous year. Conversely, while productivity (measured in work relative value units, or wRVUs), dropped by 1.63% in 2017, it rose 0.29% in 2018.

Overall, the survey reflected a compensation per wRVU ratio increase of 3.64% last year.

“The 2019 survey shows that physician compensation in 2018 rebounded from a stagnant 2017,” Fred Horton, MHA, AMGA Consulting president, said in a statement. “While productivity also increased, it did not increase enough to surpass the decline we saw in last year’s survey, meaning productivity still has not risen since 2016.”

Medical specialties saw a 1.9% increase in median wRVU production over last year’s survey, with compensation per wRVU ratio increasing by 2.65% and overall median compensation for specialists increasing by 3.39%. For cardiologists specifically, wRVUs rose by 1.8% and compensation rose by 4.4%, for a compensation per wRVU figure of 4.3%.  

Specialties that experienced similar increases to cardiology were dermatology (3.3% jump in compensation and 1.6% increase in wRVUs) and internal medicine (2.1% increase in compensation and 1.1% increase in wRVUs). Psychiatrists enjoyed a 15.6% hike in average compensation despite a 1.1% drop in productivity.

“Data from this year’s survey shows compensation is increasing without an equivalent increase in wRVU production for many specialties,” Horton said. “This trend is causing organizations to absorb additional compensation expenses without balancing revenue from production increases. More intentionally transitioning to value-based care is one strategy medical groups can use to mitigate this trend, as it would help them better clarify their organizational strategies and objectives.”