You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Care, CEO pay not linked, study says

CHICAGO — Chief executives at nonprofit hospitals earned an average of $600,000 a year — and in some cases, more than $3 million — but there was no correlation between high pay and good outcomes for patients, according to a study.

Chief executives were paid more at hospitals that got high patient satisfaction scores; used more high-tech equipment including advanced imaging machines; had more beds; and were located in large urban areas.

Continue reading below

But pay was not reflected in 30-day outcomes for patients with heart attacks, heart failure, or pneumonia in 2008, including deaths and readmissions.

Those are among publicly reported outcome measures used by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and others.

While these hospitals get big tax exemptions for providing charity care and other community benefits, the researchers said, the top executives’ pay was not tied to those measures, either.

Compensation varied widely, from less than $100,000 to more than $3 million but averaged almost $600,000 in 2009, the study found.

The results were ‘‘a little disappointing,’’ said study author Dr. Ashish Jha, a health policy professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health. To not hold chief executives accountable for whether patients live or die within 30 days of treatment ‘‘doesn’t quite make sense,’’ he said.

Jha said the message for hospital boards that decide compensation is this: ‘‘If you really care about patient outcomes here’s a place to look.’’

The study was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. It is based on an analysis of records including federal tax returns for 1,877 executives overseeing 2,681 private nonprofit hospitals.

Those studied comprise 98 percent of private nonprofit hospitals, study authors said.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.