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 in 2005 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," says 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 Physician, found that salaries for physician-executives rose 6.7% overall from the last survey in 2003, increasing to $240,000 in 2005 from $225,000. That is slightly lower than the 7.1% increase 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 from 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 2003 figure.
A separate ACPE survey of nearly 1,000 physician-executives found little faith in the pay-for-performance movement. Of the 932 physician-executives surveyed, almost 40% say their healthcare organization is currently participating in a pay-for-performance program; and among the more than 53% who say they aren't participating, 57.5% say they are considering it.
Yet, only about 34% of respondents say they feel pay-for-performance programs are fair, while about 8% say they are unfair, and about 57% say it is too early to tell.