Healthcare's intense focus on quality and patient safety is reflected in the growing importance -- and the swiftly ballooning salaries -- of individuals who oversee that high-profile area, according to a new national survey on compensation for physician-executives. Median compensation for vice presidents of quality has risen about 18% since 2003, climbing from $229,000 to $270,000 -- almost twice the increase of any of the other 15 physician-executive positions surveyed this year by St. Louis-based Cejka Search and the Tampa, Fla.-based American College of Physician Executives.
"There's clearly been a growing importance on the position of vice president for quality," said Carol Westfall, president of Cejka, a national recruitment firm that specializes in physician-executives. "And that fits with the increasing emphasis on the part of healthcare organizations on quality, outcomes and patient safety."
The survey results, based on responses from 2,422 ACPE members and released exclusively to Modern Healthcare, found that salaries for physician-executives rose 6.7% overall from the last survey two years ago, increasing from $225,000 to $240,000. That figure is slightly lower than the 7.1% increase registered between 2000 and 2003.
Not surprisingly, the highest median salaries went to the top officers -- board chairs -- whose median compensation in 2005 was $310,000, an 11% increase over 2003. Presidents and chief executive officers of all types of healthcare organizations were next in line among the 15 positions surveyed, earning about $301,500, or 9% above the figure two years earlier. (But hospital presidents, a sub-category, earned median compensation of about $340,000, an 8.6% increase over 2003.)