Doctors' Incomes Are on the Rise -- Is Yours? Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2017

Leigh Page


April 04, 2017

In This Article

Paperwork Burden Up, Appointment Times a Little Shorter

This year's Medscape report shows that the burden of paperwork is significantly greater than last year's. Specifically, 56% of physicians are currently spending 10 hours or more per week on paperwork. That's up from last year, when 35% of employed physicians and 26% of self-employed physicians spent that amount of time on paperwork.

Furthermore, 65% of physicians aren't given protected time during regular work hours to complete their paperwork, according to a 2014 survey by the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters.[19] This means that many of them have to finish paperwork after hours.

According to the new Medscape survey, face-to-face appointment times with patients seem to have shortened somewhat. It shows that fewer physicians have average appointments lasting 25 minutes or more, and more have average appointments lasting 12 minutes or less.

PCPs are under more financial pressure to keep appointments short. While specialists make money on procedures, PCPs make money on office visits. It's not unusual for PCP schedules to book patients every 15 minutes, and some hospitals book patients every 11 minutes for their employed PCPs, according to a 2014 report by Kaiser Health News.[20]

Most Employed Physicians Don't Seek Promotion

Many physicians seek employment to get away from the administrative responsibilities of running a practice and uncertainty of cash flow, so it comes as no surprise that many of them don't want to be promoted into administration within their organizations.

The Medscape survey shows that only 43% of employed physicians aim for a promotion, and slightly more female physicians (45%) than male physicians (42%) are looking to be promoted.

"I'm surprised that the interest in promotion is that high," La Penna says of the results. "Most employed physicians have no interest in going into administration, and if they did, they would be unqualified in most cases."

La Penna says employed physicians shouldn't mistake their ability to get along with others for administrative skills. "Plenty of physicians are good guys, but people will walk over good guys who can't make a tough decision," he says. Rather than administrative opportunities, employed physicians tend to be drawn by the benefits that employers offer. Even private practices offer a variety of benefits, the Medscape report shows.

According to the report, most physicians get health insurance (75%), malpractice insurance coverage (74%), paid time off (63%), dental insurance (61%), and a retirement plan with an employer match (55%). Also, 36% get bonuses, which are more likely to be handed out to employed physicians.

Last year's report broke down benefits between employed and self-employed physicians. Employed physicians had richer benefits. For example, 80% of employed physicians had paid time off, compared with 30% of self-employed physicians; and 42% of employed physicians got a bonus, compared with 25% of self-employed physicians.

More Practices Are Dropping Low-Paying Insurers

More physicians are willing to drop low-paying insurers in the Medscape report this year than in 2016. Specifically, 20% say they would drop low-paying insurers, up from 7% last year.

Practices are skittish about dropping insurers because it's very disruptive for patients, La Penna says. "If you have four or five patients who are on that plan, you'd think twice about dropping it," he says. On the other hand, physicians would be more likely to drop a low-paying insurer if they could find more patients to take its place. In the report, 18% said they needed all payers.

The whole matter of dropping insurers who pay too little is rarely an issue for employed physicians, who leave those decisions up to others. Employed physicians may be the 38% of respondents who chose "not applicable" in the Medscape survey.


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