Friday, November 25, 2011

Trends in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) Physician Compensation

Compensation for expertise does not always follow the supply/demand imbalance. Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) physicians are a current example.

I’ve  been monitoring compensation practices for full-time HPM physicians for the past five years. Through  2010, I relied upon the Compensation Reports compiled by DAI Palliative Care Group (disclosure: I am employed by its parent company). I now rely upon the recently published report of HPM physician compensation and benefits, drawn from the findings of a survey by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) of its members. Nearly 800 AAHPM physician members responded to the survey conducted in November 2010, providing information regarding their 2009 compensation from practicing Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM).

As I review the reports over the preceding five years, several observations come to mind:

  • Compensation for full-time HPM  physicians continues its rise, yet at a  slower pace than one would expect from a field marked by a shallow talent pool.
  • The gap in compensation based upon place of employment is narrowing. Compensation for hospital based HPM physicians is somewhat greater than that for hospice-based physicians, but the difference is decreasing.
  • Differences are insignificant for physicians practicing in urban, suburban, or rural areas. There are some regional differences, yet these too are insignificant. The greatest determinant of higher compensation is practicing HPM in a certificate-of-need state, such as Florida, where there is a concentration of larger-than-average size hospices who are more likely to deploy full-time physicians.
  • Salary compression, unsurprisingly, is characteristic of the specialty. Average compensation for three position layers (team physician, associate medical director, and medical director) are little more than 10 percent.The best way to improve one’s compensation is to move into leadership positions, typically within hospices.
  •  Compensation lags behind that of other specialties and primary care physicians (according to the 2010 AMGA Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey the median salary for  is $214,000 for internists, $208,000 for family practitioners,  and $267,000 for emergency medicine physicians) .

The 2010 AAHPM report is chockful of information relative to compensation, benefits, and workload. I recommend its purchase (click here).


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