Feature | August 29, 2014

Survey Finds Cardiology Income Drops for First Time in Five Years

August 29, 2014 — MedAxiom Consulting announced the release of its 2014 Provider Compensation & Productivity Report, based on 2013 data submitted by 134 cardiology programs representing 2,554 cardiologists across the country. Of these responding groups, 97 of them are integrated and 37 remain private.

"Healthcare continues to be a very volatile industry with rapid change being accepted as the norm. The world of cardiovascular is no different and 2013 was another dynamic year," said Joel Sauer, vice president of MedAxiom Consulting. "After years of steady increases, cardiology compensation overall dropped by nearly 8 percent from 2012. This is in part due to a slight decline in productivity, as measured by work relative value units (RVUs), of just under 5 percent as compared to 2012."

Another significant driver of compensation increases over the past years has been the transition of private practices into integrated models, either through hospital employment or professional services agreements (PSA). The pace of these transitions has slowed, which may explain the slight pullback on compensation. However, physicians in an integrated setting continue to out-earn their private peers by more than a 30 percent margin. Private physicians also experienced a larger setback in terms of overall compensation in 2013, giving back nearly 9 percent from 2012 as compared to integrated physicians that lost nearly 7 percent. Contrary to these earning figures, private physicians in 2013 out-produced (in terms of work RVUs) their integrated peers by almost 6 percent.

Sauer continued, "When looking at both compensation and production for subspecialty physicians, interventional cardiologists remain top earners in the field at a median compensation of $558,824 per full-time physician. In terms of production, electrophysiologists top the list with median work RVU production 11,405 per full-time physician. However, this subspecialty also saw the largest drop in overall compensation, falling nearly 9 percent from 2012." 

Geography continues to play a role in compensation as well. Physicians in the Midwest hold the top compensation spot ($559,004 median), with those in the Northeast at the bottom ($460,815 median). The South remains the top-producing region (10,213 median work RVUs), with the Northeast and West at the bottom (9,014 and 8,552 median work RVUs respectively).

The cardiology mix of business continues to change as well, but unlike in years past where the trends were all downward, 2013 is a mixed bag, shows the survey. New patients per cardiologist increased slightly as did the total number of cognitive encounters. The ratio of work performed in the hospital versus the outpatient setting inched back up for a second straight year, somewhat contradicting conventional wisdom on the migration of inpatient to outpatient nationally. For other key volumes like catheterizations and percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) it would appear that declines have hit bottom and are beginning to stabilize, while non-invasive imaging saw further erosion.

For more information: www.medaxiom.com

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