Commercial risk will be a critical catalyst of progress – it’s complicated, but is it possible? We think so.


July 26, 2019

The highest- and lowest-paid doctors, charted

Daily Briefing

    Orthopedic surgeons have the highest average annual compensation of 23 provider specialties, according to Modern Healthcare's 26th annual Physician Compensation Survey.

    For the survey, released Monday, Modern Healthcare gathered physician compensation data from 10 organizations, including the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) and the Medical Group Management Association. The survey reflects compensation changes between 2017 and 2018.

    Attract and retain physician talent—without focusing solely on compensation

    The highest paid physicians

    Of the 23 specialties, orthopedic surgeons are paid the most, at an average of $594,928, while pediatricians are paid the least, at an average of $241,200. This is the third year in a row that orthopedic surgeons have topped the list, according to Modern Healthcare's Steven Ross Johnson.

    Average physician compensation in 2018

    The broader trend

    Overall, physician compensation rose by an average 2% in 2018 for an overall mean income of $400,686, according to the survey results.

    The increase comes after compensation levels remained relatively stagnant through 2017, according to Ross Johnson.

    Much of the growth was seen in subspecialties, such as non-invasive cardiology and plastic surgery, according to Ross Johnson, which both grew by an average of 4% in 2018.

    One driver of the growth rate bump was increased demand for primary care specialties, which saw an average increase of over 2% last year. Another contributing factor was a rise in patient volume, according to Fred Horton, president of AMGA. "Since productivity went up, compensation went up," he said.

    Horton said the increase could indicate that physician compensation growth will continue to increase at around 3%, the rate it has over the last several years, which would imply that the stagnant compensation levels observed in 2017 were not indicating a new compensation trend (Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, 7/20).

    Have a Question?


    Ask our experts a question on any topic in health care by visiting our member portal, AskAdvisory.