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Taking a Deep Dive

Meghan Wong

MGMA DataDive Helps Practices Benchmark, Stay Competitive

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up some place else" - Yogi Berra

The late, great Yogi Berra was known for colorful, seemingly nonsensical, but oft quoted phrases. Yet, so many of his most memorable observations were firmly grounded in truth.

For providers and administrators, the best way to stay on course is to have a clear picture of where the practice stands in comparison to their peers and insights into best practices for growth and efficiency. For nearly a century, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) has collected and disseminated actionable data and resources to help practices navigate that journey to operational success.

While the national organization has been conducting cost surveys for close to 50 years and physician compensation studies for more than four decades, the information was in booklet form prior to the creation of DataDive a little more than a decade ago. "DataDive is an interactive, online platform," explained Meghan Wong, MS, director of Data Solutions for MGMA. She noted the data repository has thousands of metrics that can be filtered and scaled locally, regionally and nationally.

Wong said four main annual reports are rolled out from mid-May through mid-August. The benchmarking data captured in DataDive are:

  • Provider Compensation & Production (mid-May),
  • Management & Staff Compensation (mid-June),
  • Cost & Revenue (mid-July), and
  • Practice Operations (mid-August).

"We also have the supplementary Research & Analysis reports that are a curated look at the data," Wong said of the comprehensive insights by MGMA subject matter experts. "I think what sets us apart is the wealth of education we have around DataDive," she continued. "We have a dedicated team of analysts who will answer questions."

Access to the data is available at two levels. "If you participate in our surveys, you get a limited look at the data," she said of no-charge access. However, survey participants have the opportunity to pay a fee for full access to the benchmarking data that allows them to do a deep dive. For example, she explained, the basic data set would allow a practice manager to look at provider compensation information across four geographic regions - East, Midwest, South and West. The full access level allows administrators to drill down to the state or local area for comparisons. "You have the opportunity to add a lot more detail," Wong noted.

The recently released Provider Compensation & Production Report looked at 147,000 physician and non-physician providers across more than 5,000 organizations throughout the country. The survey data revealed median compensation for established providers rose across most specialties since the last report was published (2019 report looked at changes from 2017 to 2018).

Wong said, "We actually saw some pretty substantial increases for established providers." She added there was a 6-7 percent increase for several specialties including diagnostic radiology, obstetrics/gynecology, neurosurgery, general neurologists and noninvasive cardiology. Overall, specialty physicians saw a 4.4 percent increase, primary care physicians a 3.4 percent bump up, and advanced practice providers a 2.9 percent increase.

"If groups are looking to hire new physicians, we have a separate data set for new doctors," Wong explained, adding data is available for both established physicians making a move and those who are just completing their training.

The latest report found practices looking to add physicians to their roster are facing increased market competition, particularly in areas where there are shortages. As a result, many practices recruiting new doctors are offering higher salaries. For example, between 2017 and 2018, guaranteed compensation for newly hired cardiologists grew 21.5 percent from $400,000 to $485,000.

In addition to total compensation, the report includes details on work RVUs, total RVUs, professional collections and charges, and benefit metrics. "It's great for individuals to see the information year-over-year to see if they are remaining competitive," Wong noted.

Similarly, the Management and Staff Compensation data, released last month, provides benchmarking information for administrators, CEOs and other executives, and medical assistants. "We grew that report to 162,000 individuals," Wong said of the latest information.

"Our Cost & Revenue data set launches mid-July," she said of the next report to roll out. Staffing ratio, cost-structure comparisons, impact of payer mix and collections and accounts receivable data help administrators better understand the factors influencing a practice's bottom line.

"The last one is Practice Operations in August," Wong said of MGMA's newest report, which originally launched in 2016. "It's the result of an unmet need in the industry," she continued of looking at general operations information her team couldn't easily find in the marketplace. Although not financial in nature, Wong said the report highlights data across a broad operational spectrum - from hours of operation, staff turnover rates and wait times for patients to the time it takes to pick up a phone call and the duration of calls.

"Benchmarking is crucial and critical to any practice being successful," Wong said. "You can look internally and benchmark what is happening within the practice, but if you don't understand what the market is doing, you can't stay competitive and won't be successful," she concluded.

Mark Your Calendars

MGMA19 | The Annual Conference

October 13-16

New Orleans

Join thought leaders at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans for four days of insight and education to improve practice performance - from increasing patient access through innovation to reducing staff turnover and many other timely topics.

For details or to register, go online to




Annual Conference Link


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DataDive, Healthcare Administrators, Medical Group Management Association, Meghan Wong, MGMA, Physician Compensation, Practice Cost, Practice Management, Practice Managers, Practice Operations, Provider Compensation
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