Hospital chief medical officers saw a modest bump of 2.5% in their 2009 compensation—up to almost $324,000 from about $316,000—but fared better than their group practice peers, who saw a 3.6% decrease in compensation, down to about $294,000 from $305,000, according to the 2009-10 Survey of Chief Medical Officers conducted by the Physician Executive Leadership Center, a Tampa, Fla.-based physician-executive search firm.
Hospital CMO pay up
But their peers didn't fare as well
CMOs in other settings reported marginal changes in compensation. CMOs at managed-care organizations saw a 2.9% dip, down to $325,000 from about $334,000. Compensation for CMOs at integrated systems increased 2.1%, reaching almost $385,000 from $377,000.
“As talk about reform became more active and people started to pay more attention to it, I think there was just a general belt-tightening and hunkering down at hospitals,” said Dr. Aamir Rehman, senior vice president of Navvis and Co., the parent company of the Physician Executive Leadership Center. “So the CMO position was also one of the positions where the compensation increases were not that dramatic.”
But Rehman said CMO compensation has increased significantly in the past decade.
From 1999-2009, total compensation increased 52% for hospital CMOs, 41% among group practice CMOs and 35% for CMOs at integrated systems. CMOs working in the managed-care setting experienced the largest pay increase in that same time period—67%.
“That's a pretty strong commentary on how important this role (CMO) and how central this role has become,” Rehman said.
The survey showed that CMOs still are predominantly male, and about 40% are internists in most settings, similar to 2008-09 Survey of Chief Medical Officers. Managed-care organizations continue to have the lowest percentage—31%—of internists, with 39% of the surveyed CMOs reporting family practice as their specialty.
One continuing trend is hospital and group practice CMOs having increased clinical duties. In the survey, 19% of hospital CMOs reported having clinical duties, up from 14% in 2008, and 38% of group practice CMOs reported having clinical duties. CMOs must balance clinical duties as they increasingly take on more administrative and leadership duties.
Rehman attributed the increase to a shift in CMO profiles, which we will see in the next few years.
“As you see younger and younger people emerging into the CMO role, they are wanting to hold on a little bit to that clinical practice,” he said.
Dr. Robert Permut, systems chief medical officer for Provena Health's six-hospital system, agreed with Rehman.
Permut said that of the six CMOs that he supervises, the youngest CMO—in his mid-to-late 30s—spends 40% of his time on clinical duties.
Permut said younger CMOs practice so they do not lose their clinical skills early in their careers. The few CMOs who spend some time clinically practicing at Provena Health want to maintain their credibility with medical staff.
The survey also reported on the growing number of physician-executives with advanced management degrees. For hospitals, 71% of CMO physician executives reported having or pursuing an advanced management degree—higher than in the previous three surveys. At integrated systems, 85% of CMO physician-executives reported having or pursuing it, much higher than 61% in 2008.
Tina Shah is a freelance writer for Modern Healthcare based in Skokie, Ill.
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