Medical directors paid too little?

Managed care, it seems, is least rewarding for those physicians who are most immersed in it: the medical directors. A report from Ernst & Young, the giant worldwide accounting and consulting firm, implies that medical director income varies inversely with administrative duties. While people in this position need to have all the skills of a physician, they must also have administrative capabilities that increasingly require special training. Yet E&Y found that medical directors who spend less than half their time at that job (and more than half in a clinical setting) “enjoy total cash compensation that is 14 percent higher at the competitive market median than those with primarily administrative responsibilities.” While it makes sense for medical managers to be practicing physicians, Ernst & Young asserts that “The next generation of successful medical managers must make a full-time commitment to fully master the complexities and functional demands of the job.” Without higher compensation, it will be difficult to recruit capable people for these positions.

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