Salaries of nonprofit hospital CEOs rising faster than those of physicians

From 2005 to 2015, mean compensation for major nonprofit medical center CEOs increased 93 percent, from $1.6 million to $3.1 million, a study published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research found.

The researchers identified CEO and CFO compensation at 22 U.S. nonprofit medical centers selected from U.S. News & World Report's 2016-2017 hospital honor roll list.

They also looked at four health systems with notable orthopedic departments using IRS data for the years 2005, 2010 and 2015. Since institution-specific compensation data is unavailable, the researchers used national mean compensation of orthopedic surgeons, pediatricians and registered nurses.

Four study insights:

1. From 2005 to 2015, the wage gap between CEOs and orthopedic surgeons, pediatricians and registered nurses rose from 3:1 to 5:1 for orthopedic surgeons, from 7:1 to 12:1 for pediatricians and from 23:1 to 44:1 for registered nurses. The researchers found similar wage-gap trends in CFO compensation.

2. Mean healthcare worker wages increased 8 percent from 2005 to 2015.

3. Management worker wages rose 14 percent; nonclinical worker wages rose 7 percent and physician salaries increased 10 percent

4. "There is a fast-rising wage gap between the top executives of major nonprofit centers and physicians that reflects the substantial, and growing, cost of nonclinical worker wages to the U.S. healthcare system," the researchers wrote.

But the findings show there does not seem to be a proportionate increase in healthcare utilization, suggesting a growing burden of nonclinical healthcare tasks, the researchers said. Strategies to reduce nonclinical work could lead to significant cost savings, the researchers wrote.

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