Radiologist Compensation Increases

Salaries for radiologists continue to outpace those of many other medical specialists, according to a newly published physician compensation survey. However, those salary increases were not as dramatic as they were in the previous year.

The 2003 American Medical Group Association (AMGA) Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey, based on 2002 data, showed that radiologists had the largest compensation gains, along with otolaryngologists, and gastroenterologists. The 2002 median compensation for diagnostic radiologists was $315,000, compared with $302,704 in 2001 (a rise of 4.06%). For interventional radiologists, median 2002 compensation was $401,000, up a healthy 12.64% from 2001’s $356,000 median figure. In addition, anesthesiologists saw a 2.06% median salary climb from 2001 to 2002, going from $278,964 to $284,725.

Table 1. Median physician compensation 1999-2002. Source: AMGA.

In other statistics from the survey, a comparison of median gross charges from 1999-2002 showed that diagnostic radiologists had $1,445,049 in charges in 2002, up 12.93% from the previous year’s charges. Additionally, interventional radiologists had $1,577,246 in charges in 2002, up 4.38%.

Regionally, a dissection of overall compensation among diagnostic radiologists revealed that those doing business in the southern portion of the country ranked highest in the 90th percentile at $595,594. Similarly, interventional radiologists in the South ranked highest in that percentile, with compensation of $684,296.

In the overall summary by specialty, of 448 diagnostic radiologists responding to the survey, of 448 responding, the median gross productivity was $1,445,049, with a median compensation to productivity ratio of 23.84%. Out of 431 physicians responding to the survey, median work RVUs were 6,978.

For interventional radiologists, of 409 radiologists responding to the survey, median compensation was $401,000; of 169 responding, the median gross productivity was $1,577,246, with a median compensation to productivity ratio of 26.57%. Out of 148 physicians responding to the survey, median work RVUs were 9,078.

A small number of neurointerventional radiologists also took part in the survey. Their numbers: the median compensation out of 19 responding was $364,328; of the same number of respondents, the median gross productivity was $1,762,815, with a median compensation to productivity ratio of 21.98%.

The survey also looked at administrative positions for the medical groups that responded, which included all medical specialties involved in the survey. Median compensation was reported at $63,553 for business office managers, which included a median bonus of $5,102 and median total compensation of $61,396, indicating that not all respondents received bonuses. CFOs reported a median base compensation of $113,630, with a median bonus of $11,590 and total compensation of $98,707.

Finally, MIS directors reported a median base compensation of $82,062, a median bonus of $5,146, and a median total compensation of $80,972. Nonphysician administrator-presidents (COOs) reported a median base salary of $175,807, with a median bonus compensation of $34,803 and total compensation of $165,239. In the category of physician administrators (CEOs), the median compensation was $240,479, with a median bonus of $16,572 and total compensation of $240,479.

Medi-Cal Cuts Concern Coast Radiologists

The recall election is not the only thing causing controversy in California these days. The $99.1-billion state budget recently signed by Gov Gray Davis includes a 5% cut in payments to doctors who treat low-income patients under the state’s Medi-Cal program, a move that will likely impact both radiologists and those seeking their services.

“All physicians in the state were opposed to this,” says Bob Ackermann, president of the California Radiological Society. Such a reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursements to doctors could discourage some physicians from accepting Medi-Cal beneficiaries, he says. “Lower rates are going to limit the number of physicians who can participate in Medi-Cal. And lower rates will also limit the number of Medi-Cal patients physicians can afford to treat.” Ackermann says the bill had contained a 15% reduction at one point, eventually being decreased to 5%.

The budget, which is for fiscal year 2003-2004, was designed by Gov Davis to save $115 million in the first 6 months of 2004. The Medi-Cal cut is expected to reduce state expenditures by $244 million in the following fiscal year.

“Medi-Cal rates currently rank 42nd in the country, so they’re already quite low,” says Ackermann. “This makes no sense. And the budget next year for the state looks even worse, so we can probably expect even more cuts like this.” Indeed, Davis’ budget projects a $930 million cut in 2004-2005 spending.

While Ackermann cannot speculate about the cut potentially influencing other states, he does point out that an effort to stop the cuts has already begun in earnest. The California Medical Association, for example, is considering litigation in an attempt to prevent the cuts from happening.

Future Shock

Paradigm changes are happening faster than they used to, and the pace of progress is accelerating as we write, according to noted futurist Ray Kurzweil, PhD, in a provocative talk at the recent SCAR meeting.

“The first paradigm change in biological evolution took billions of years,” Kurzweil said, invoking the development of DNA. Subsequent paradigm changes, Kurzweil said, happened more quickly: the Cambrian Explosion during which the body plan for animals developed took place over tens of millions of years and Homo sapiens emerged over tens of thousands of years. One thousand years ago, well into the era of human-directed technology, the printing press took a century to be adopted. In comparison, the World Wide Web was adopted within 10 years.

Kurzweil credited computers with accelerating the pace of progress, computers that are progressively faster and smaller. What will happen when Moore’s Law runs out, ie, circuit boards are reduced to the molecular level and can get no smaller? The answer is unlikely to come from the human brain, according to Kurzweil’s vision of the universe. With the ability to compute about 200 transactions per second, the human brain is already 10 million times slower than the fastest computer. “By 2010 computers will disappear,” predicts Kurzweil. “They will be embedded in clothing, eyeglasses, eyes; images will be written directly on our retinas. A full visual, auditory virtual reality will augment real reality. By 2029, the reverse engineering of the human brain will be complete and computers will pass the Turing test, that is, operate at human levels; we will enter a new era of nonbiological intelligence with subtlety and pattern recognition similar to human intelligence.”

Answering questions after the talk, Kurzweil predicted that pattern recognition will transform what radiologists do and do not do: while the simpler calculations will be addressed by CAD, radiologists will spend more time focusing on the challenging work. And as medicine extends human life, there is bound to be plenty of that work to go around. “In the 18th century, we added a few days,” Kurzweil said. “In the 19th century, we added a few weeks&we are currently adding a hundred days every year to life expectancy; soon, we will add a year every year. If you can hang in there for another decade, you’ll actually be able to see the century ahead.” To learn more about artificial intelligence, go to .

Industry News

iCAD Inc, Nashua, NH, and R2 Technologies, Sunnyvale, Calif, have settled out of court on the patent infringement lawsuits that each company had filed against each other. The settlement allows iCAD nonexclusive license to the patents named in the suit by R2. In addition, R2 may purchase Howtek film digitizers over the next 5 years…Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has recognized Camtronics Medical Systems, Milwaukee,? as the winner of two awards: the 2003 Market Penetration Leadership Award and the 2003 Product Quality Leadership Award in the cardiovascular image and information management market for exceptional marketing, sales, and product innovation strategies…GE Medical Systems, Waukesha, Wis, has announced the launch of a national tour designed to educate women about the importance of their own health and wellness. The “GE Women’s Health Wellness Tour” began on September 17 in San Francisco…The CDC Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has chosen four grantees for a mobile mammography coach program. Siemens MAMMOMAT systems have been chosen for the four coaches, which will be operated by San Antonio Metropolitan Health District; Alpena General Hospital (Alpena, Mich); Goshen Medical Center Inc (Faison, NC); and Glens Falls Hospital (Glens Falls, NY)…MRI Devices Corp, Waukesha, Wis,? has announced its first annual case study contest, open to all US owners of MRI Devices imaging coils and intended to spotlight the work being done in the MRI field. Owners of coils are encouraged to submit their best 2003 Case Study acquired using any MRI Devices coil product, with the grand prize winner traveling to Kyoto, Japan, to attend the SMRT conference on May 14-16, 2004.


Cindy Moran has been named assistant executive director for government relations for the American College of Radiology. Moran joins the ACR from Pharmacia Corporation, where she served as senior director for federal government affairs. She also has served in a variety of positions with the Department of Health and Human Services, and for 9 years as director of federal affairs for the American Academy of Ophthalmology…The health care news weekly Modern Healthcare has released the results of its second annual ranking of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare.” Four names associated with radiology made the cut this year, appearing alongside such heavy hitters as George W. Bush, Senator Edward Kennedy, and US Attorney General John Ashcroft. Coming in at number 11 was Uwe Reinhardt, PhD, James Madison Professor of Political Economy and a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and Decisions in Axis Imaging News editorial advisory board member. Elias Zerhouni, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md, came in at number 25; Erich Reinhardt, president and CEO of Siemens Medical Solutions, was voted number 34; and Rick Wolfert, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Financial Services, Chicago, was voted the number 39 most powerful health care personality…Decisions in Axis Imaging News has added two new advisors to its editorial board: R. James Brenner, MD, JD, is director, Breast Imaging Services, Eisenberg Keefer Breast Center, St Johns Health Center, Tower Imaging Associates, Santa Monica, Calif, and clinical professor of radiology, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Richard Helsper, MBA, former radiology administrator at Duke University Medical Center, and currently VP of operations, Clarian Health…The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Reston, Va, has appointed Heinrich R. Schelbert, MD, PhD, as its new editor. Schelbert is the George V. Taplin Professor of Nuclear Medicine in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine and chief of nuclear medicine service at UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles…Thomas Andersson has joined FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA Inc as vice president of saleseast, with responsibility for all field sales activities in the eastern half of the United States…Orex Computed Radiography has appointed Jason Koshnitsky director of global radiotherapy business and Paul Sysmans vice president and general manager for Europe, following Orex’s expansion into worldwide distribution and new product categories…MarCap Corp, Chicago, a financing and leasing company that specializes in the medical equipment market, has promoted Ken Seip to vice president of sales and marketing. He most recently served as the company’s director of sales…The American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA) Education Foundation, Sudbury, Mass, has announced the 2003 Amersham Health Award for Excellence recipients. The Amersham awards, which recognize radiology administrators for exceptional innovation, leadership, administrative capabilities, and sharing of expertise and experience, were given to: Kent Johnson, director of radiology, Columbus Regional Hospital, Columbus, Ind; Lauri MacDonald, imaging manager, Oak Lawn MR & Imaging Center, Oak Lawn, Ill; Darlene May, director medical imaging, Northcrest Medical Center, Springfield, Tenn; Lynn McVey, director of radiology, Beth Israel Hospital, Passaic, NJ; and James Miller, radiology services director, Mission Hospitals, Asheville, NC.