Female physicians spend more time with patients, get paid less, study finds

Female primary care physicians spend more time with patients during visits, but get paid less than their male peers, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, Boston-based Harvard Medical School and athenahealth analyzed all-payer claims and EHR data on 24.4 million primary care visits nationwide in 2017. 

They found female physicians generated 10.9 percent less revenue from office visits and conducted 10.8 fewer visits annually compared to male physicians. However, female physicians spent 2.6 percent more time (20 additional hours) with patients during visits. 

Since physicians are largely paid per visit, longer in-person visits means female physicians may have fewer visits annually and therefore have lower total revenue, researchers said.

"The disconnect between time spent and revenue generated may help to explain why female physicians — especially [primary care physicians] — face greater potential for job burnout,"  study author Hannah Neprash, PhD, an assistant professor at Minnesota' School of Public Health, said in a news release. "For example, female PCPs may experience declining morale because they may want to spend extra time with their patients; feel pressure from their employers to treat more people; and earn less money despite doing more work." 

Two study limitations are that the research only examined revenue per physician — not their take- home pay — and did not assess whether female physicians' patients had better outcomes, STAT noted in its Oct. 1 Morning Rounds newsletter.

More articles on compensation:

Gender pay gap set to close in 39 years
4 hospitals offering COVID-19 bonuses
Lee Health to freeze pay for 13,500 employees

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