The DOW is up. Unemployment is at an all-time low. The economy is going gangbusters. According to an American Medical Association report, that’s due in part to the healthcare industry. In fact, physicians are responsible for creating and supporting 12.6 million jobs and generating $2.3 trillion in economic activity.
Most people wouldn’t expect healthcare’s economic impact to be that great, says Richard C. Johnston, MD, FACP, chief executive officer and chief physician officer at USMD Healthcare in Dallas. Johnston says a busy internist might account for $1 to $1.3 million dollars to a hospital’s revenues and some specialties, like orthopedics, are way higher. “But to actually think about the number of employees, payroll, taxes and other downstream revenue, this is the first time we’ve seen that presented,” says Johnston.
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The study broke down the data by region and measured the overall economic impact of physicians by four qualifiers:
· The number of jobs the average physician supports: 17.1
· Total economic output per physician: $3.2 million
· Dollar amount contributed to workers per physician: $1.4 million
· Tax revenue per physician: $129,000
Johnston says the numbers first reflect how much healthcare means to the economy, and how cautious we must be when making dramatic changes in anything that affects healthcare economics. Also, that physicians, such as primary care doctors, account for so much revenue to the economy that they should be good stewards of how they handle that in terms of trying to lower the cost of healthcare.
The Future of Healthcare
“In terms of the future of the industry, there’s clearly a primary care shortage in the country, maybe 50, 000,” says Johnston. “Right now because of full employment in the country, just like in the 90s when the economy is really roaring, a lot of people who would migrate into healthcare because there are always jobs there, go out and get jobs in industry, so we are struggling to keep up with turnover.”