It’s that time of year again – the results of the Medscape Allergist Compensation Report are here. Allergists generally fared much better than last year. However, this data should be taken with a grain of salt, as so few allergists participate every year, and we don’t know what percent were employees vs. owners. In total, 19,270 physicians across 27+ specialties participated, and about 1% or 193 of those were allergists. (This is similar to allergist participation in the 2015 and 2016 Medscape surveys.) Data was collected via online survey from December 20, 2016 through March 7, 2017.
“From the results, allergists are holding their own financially though many feel they are under-compensated. It is important to note that over 80% would choose allergy again," said Michael Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, executive medical director of the College.
- Allergists’ annual compensation for patient care (including salary, bonus and profit sharing) was $257,000, up 16% over last year and up 4% from 2015. Income increased dramatically this year but was significantly lower in 2016 vs 2015, which is probably related to the small number of allergists and variation in practice styles surveyed.
- Self-employed allergists earned 42% more than employed allergists ($302,000 vs. $212,000).
- Male allergists reported earning 22% more than female allergists ($272,000 vs. $223,000). However, more women than men allergists reported working part-time (40% vs. 16%).
- Only 48% of reporting allergists believe they are fairly compensated, which ranked near the bottom of all physicians.
- Allergists’ participation in accountable care organizations increased in 2017 to 36% from 26% last year.
- Only 44% of allergists plan to participate in MACRA this year. Despite this, 79% said they would continue to accept new and existing Medicare and Medicaid patients.
- One third of allergists in this year’s survey said they have seen an influx of patients due to the Affordable Care Act. That compares to 25% in 2016. 46% said they plan to participate in insurance exchanges in 2017, up from 23% last year.
- A whopping 94% of allergists said they either regularly or occasionally discuss the cost of treatment with patients. That compares to 75% of all physicians, and may partially reflect the variability of immunotherapy coverage among insurers.
- 75% of allergists don’t charge patients for no-shows.
- Allergists spend fewer hours per week seeing patients than other physicians – although sample size could be skewing these numbers. 13% of all allergists spend less than 30 hours a week seeing patients. 74% spend 30-45 hours per week seeing patients, and a full 13% spend 46+ hours per week seeing patients. For comparison purposes, 33% of all physicians spend 46+ hours per week seeing patients.
- Allergists also spend more time with each patient than the average physician. 69% of allergists spend between 13-24 minutes per patient (compared to 59% of all physicians), while 22% of allergists spend 25 minutes or more (vs. 11% of all physicians).
- 57% of allergists spend 10 hours or more per week on paperwork and administration. That’s in line with other physicians and is about the same amount that was reported for allergists in the 2015 Medscape survey.
- Perhaps the best news: 79% of allergists said they would choose medicine again, which ranked in the upper third of all physicians. And reassuringly, 81% of allergists said they would pick the same specialty again.
“This survey shows less than half of the allergists responding are participating in MACRA this year, which could indicate a learning gap,” observed Stanley Fineman, MD, MBA, FACAAI, chair of the Practice Management Committee. “The College has recently provided guidance on participation in MACRA to help inform our members.” If you missed the articles, check out how to do the bare minimum to avoid a penalty in 2019, and how to do everything you can to maximize your bonus. And, stay tuned for our updated MIPS toolkit coming soon!
The final takeaway? “These types of surveys do help provide a broad picture of some of the economic benchmarks, but due to the small sample size must be interpreted cautiously,” said Dr. Fineman.