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.
Since 2003, median compensation for the position of vice president of quality has shot up about 18%, jumping to $270,000 from $229,000--almost twice the increase of any of the other 15 executive positions surveyed by St. Louis-based Cejka Search and the American College of Physician Executives, a Tampa, Fla.-based group that represents about 9,000 physician managers.
Overall, salaries for physician-executives rose 6.7% from the last survey two years ago, increasing to $240,000 from $225,000. That figure is slightly lower than the 7.1% pay hike registered from 2000 to 2003.
"There's clearly been a growing importance to the position of vice president for quality," said Carol Westfall, president of Cejka Search, a national 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, based on responses from 2,422 ACPE members and released exclusively to Modern Healthcare, found that most physician-executives enjoyed fairly modest increases over the past two years, with the highest median salaries going to the top officers.
In keeping with the focus on outcomes, the survey also showed a dramatic increase in the percentage of physician-executives whose bonuses were tied to quality measurements--31% in all, or more than twice the figure two years ago. "The most remarkable thing about the survey is the doubling of that number," said Barbara Linney, vice president of career development at the ACPE.