January 6th, 2013

Are the MGMA numbers accurate?

Authors Note: this was written many, many years ago prior to our focusing solely in psychiatry, so it is written broadly, contemplating all medical specialties, however it can be applied specifically to the salaries of psychiatrists

First off, let me begin by giving nothing whatsoever but a rave review for the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). They are truly an excellent organization dedicated to the furtherance of medical groups and healthcare in general. They provide an exceptional amount of resources and guidance to a number of physicians, healthcare executives, administrators… they work hard to benefit pretty much everyone under the sun involved in healthcare delivery. Please in no way think this article is intended to besmirch the MGMA.

Here’s a little background regarding the MGMA and it’s relevance to the physician recruitment industry. They publish the most thorough and well used tool for the evaluation of physician compensation (not to mention compensation for a number of other healthcare positions) that many practices use to not only devise compensation structures for their prospective physicians but they also use in revisiting a practice’s compensation structure for their existing physicians. The annual publication is very intuitively laid out, both by physician specialty and by region. It really is the very best publication out there for this purpose. That said it is inherently flawed, as are all compensation surveys and they tend to overall reflect lower figures than what is accurate.

“Of course a physician recruiter would say this,” you say… “they want you to inflate your offer to prospective candidates as much as possible to make it as competitive as possible and therefore their chance of success is that much greater.” While this does admittedly occur within the physician recruitment industry, it is not actually what is behind this criticism of the MGMA numbers (you will see it is actually a criticism of all compensation surveys; the MGMA’s is just the most well known to physician recruiters and administrators).

The MGMA numbers are derived the same way all physician compensation surveys are. They are dependent upon and extrapolated from raw data provided by survey respondents. Now let me ask you this: When it comes to responding to a survey, which practice is more likely to have the time to fill out a lengthy questionnaire? The bustling practice, bursting at its seems with activity and revenue or the practice with a little extra down time that provides for doing things like filling out surveys? The MGMA has seemingly picked up on this and they added the enticement of giving the fairly expensive annual report for free to those practices who complete the survey in order to try and get greater response. But again, I ask you: Who is more likely to care about getting free books? The busy practice with deep pockets or the slower one?

It’s seems fairly intuitive to me that the MGMA numbers as well as any compensation survey that depends on respondent participation is going to be skewed in favor of the slower practices and therefore the practices whose physicians make less and therefore the numbers will overall be lower. That said, if you keep this in mind the MGMA numbers are still very useful. Just realize they might be a little low.

As professional physician recruiters, we realize you may not have any idea as to how to formulate a compensation package that is both competitive but also financially feasible. Insofar as you want us to, we will assist within this process and would be more than happy to talk with you whenever so either call 512-270-2885 or fill out the form on the contact-us page.

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