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CMO Compensation in Non-Profit Hospitals

As part of the 2023 BFMV Physician Leaders Compensation Report, BFMV analyzed Form 990[1] data filed by non-profit hospitals and health systems nationwide to find trends in compensation paid to Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). CMOs are physicians in senior leadership roles who provide strategic leadership and direction of daily operations in hospitals, health systems, or medical centers. Their duties commonly include serving as liaisons between the administration and medical staff, managing budgets and operations within healthcare regulations and safety standards, and overseeing physicians' and other providers' hiring and practice policies.

The number of CMO positions has been growing for some time, and the responsibilities of CMOs may be increasing. According to a 2023 study, "the role of the chief medical officer (CMO) has expanded and evolved amid the shift to value-based payment models and sharpened focus on patient safety, quality, community engagement, and equity in healthcare, as well as a global pandemic." [2] A survey of physician leaders conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges indicated that "Forty-nine percent of these positions had existed for 10 years or less. The most common administrative title was CMO (48%)."[3]

Likewise, CMOs were the most common physician leaders in our 2023 study. The second most common title was Medical Director, followed by Chief of Staff in a distant third place.

We retrieved data for 1,313 CMOs, in 28 clinical specialties. The average annual compensation for the CMOs represented by our sample ranged from $277,127, for those with a specialty in General & Preventative Medicine, to $713,517, for CMOs with a specialty in Cardiology. Reported specialties with respective sample sizes and average compensation are listed below.

We found a positive correlation between CMO compensation and hospital revenue for most benchmark percentiles, as shown below. In most circumstances, the higher the hospital revenue, the higher the CMO compensation. The exceptions to this trend are evident in the smaller revenue categories at the higher percentiles for compensation.

Across all CMO specialties and categories, the 2023 average annual CMO compensation was $378,069[4]. This amount represents an increase from our previous study of CMO compensation conducted in 2016. In 2016, we found data for 642 CMOs with an average compensation of $342,000 annually. The chart below portrays the upward trend in CMO compensation across-the-board from seven years ago.

Check out the 2023 BFMV Physician Leader Compensation Report for more physician leader compensation benchmarks. Contact us with questions or for more information.


[1]Form 990s include compensation data for officers, directors, trustees, and employees whose reportable compensation from the organization and related organizations exceeds certain thresholds for the tax year. [2] Onyango R, Baker MC, Faerberg J, Haberman M, McCoy R, Orlowski J. Evolution of the Chief Medical Officer Role in Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems. J Healthc Manag. 2023 Mar-Apr 01;68(2):121-131. doi: 10.1097/JHM-D-22-00097. PMID: 36892454. [3] Longnecker DE, Patton M, Dickler RM. Roles and responsibilities of chief medical officers in member organizations of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Acad Med. 2007 Mar;82(3):258-63. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31803072fb. PMID: 17327714.

[4] Form 990 data in the 2023 Report were reported to IRS in 2022 and 2021.


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