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Medical Group Management Association

Physician Compensation Flattens due to the Pandemic’s Impact on Medical Groups

Press Release - May 26, 2021

MGMA’s 32nd annual compensation report reveals surprising compensation data from a year of tremendous change in the industry

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (May 26, 2021) — Despite the wide-ranging financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices in 2020 — which included lower patient volumes, caps on elective procedures and a growing number of practice closures — new research from Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reveals that compensation for most physicians has remained steady. The “2021 MGMA Provider Compensation and Production” report, which reflects data from more than 185,000 providers across more than 6,700 physician-owned and hospital-owned organizations, shows that compensation for primary care physicians saw modest growth in 2020, and many physician specialties have seen slight increases or met previous year compensation during the most significant economic challenges experienced by the healthcare industry in nearly a century.
 
Full details about the research are available in the newly-released report, “MGMA DataDive Provider Compensation: Provider Pay and the Pandemic.”  The report provides physician practices with a closer look at the data, including data broken down across numerous specialty areas. This is the latest report from MGMA that analyzes the impact of the pandemic on this vital sector of the healthcare industry. Earlier this spring, MGMA issued another special report, “Quantifying COVID-19: Measuring the Pandemic’s Impact on Medical Practices,” which delivers insights into the pandemic’s impact on a number of areas of practice operations and management. That report included preliminary data for 2020 that showed declines for certain practices such as surgical specialties. However, the 2021 Provider Compensation and Production report provides a fuller picture of compensation trends that include several noteworthy findings. 
 
Compensation Trends
Primary care physician compensation saw modest growth during 2020. With support for medical practices from the government, most notably the Paycheck Protection Program and the Provider Relief Fund, as well as a rebound in patient volumes in the latter part of the year, physician compensation stabilized as practices covered their overhead with federal assistance. Total compensation for primary care physicians increased by 2.6% between 2019 and 2020 compared to the three- and five-year cumulative increases of 5.27% and 10.15% respectively. Advanced practice providers (APPs) also experienced a slight increase in compensation during the same one-year timeframe.
 
Compensation trends for other physician specialties also sustained despite the significant patient access challenges that several specialties faced during the pandemic. Compensation changes for most specialties were very modest or essentially flat, and the decreases in compensation seen for certain specialties were not as large as expected. Surgical physicians, for example, whose patient volumes were significantly limited because of regional lockdowns and overwhelmed hospitals, experienced a compensation decrease of 0.89% in 2020. Nonsurgical specialists also reported a decrease of 1.29% despite the significant challenges faced by those specialists last year.
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“MGMA’s modest compensation findings belie the turmoil of 2020. Our numbers tell a story of a year of unprecedented challenges that could have potentially led to a serious decline in compensation across every category we track. Practices acted quickly to leverage government programs to cover staff costs and expenses during the early part of the 2020. They adapted to new delivery models such as telemedicine and were able to quickly ramp up when patient volumes returned later in the year. It is a testament to the resiliency of physician groups that weathering the challenges of a year that tested us all in so many ways,” said Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of MGMA.
 
Physician Productivity Trends
 
This MGMA report also includes data findings related to physician productivity during 2020, when operational challenges and lockdowns posed significant obstacles to productivity. Total encounters reflect the number of direct provider-to-patient interactions regardless of setting, including televisits and e-visits. Work RVUs (wRVUs) also quantify productivity and consider the complexity of the visits. 

To see the full report and review more details, visit https://www.mgma.com/pay21.
 
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About MGMA
Founded in 1926, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) is the nation’s largest association focused on the business of medical practice management. MGMA consists of 15,000 group medical practices ranging from small private medical practices to large national health systems representing more than 350,000 physicians. MGMA helps nearly 60,000 medical practice leaders and the healthcare community solve the business challenges of running practices so that they can focus on providing outstanding patient care. Specifically, MGMA helps its members innovate and improve profitability and financial sustainability, and it provides the gold standard on industry benchmarks such as physician compensation. The association also advocates extensively on its members’ behalf on national regulatory and policy issues. To learn more, go to MGMA.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
 
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