PCPs Generate More Revenue than Specialists

Physicians are not just the primary providers of medical care, but also the key drivers of hospital revenue, generating an average of $1.4 million for affiliated hospitals.

On average, a single physician generates more than $1.4 million a year in net revenue for his or her affiliated hospital, according to a new survey.

The Merritt Hawkins 2013 Physician Inpatient/Outpatient Revenue Survey reported that physicians are not just the primary providers of medical care, but also the key drivers of hospital revenue.

The survey asked hospital chief financial officers (CFOs) to quantify the revenue physicians in 18 specialties generated in a year. For the first time in the five years Merritt Hawkins conducted the survey primary care physicians generated more annual revenue than some specialists.

“A seismic shift is taking place in medicine, away from specialists and toward primary care physicians,” Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a statement. “Primary care physicians are increasingly employed by hospitals and in new delivery models, such as Accountable Care Organizations. They are taking a greater role in driving both the delivery of care and the flow of health care dollars.”

On average, specialist physicians generated $1.44 million, while primary care physicians generated $1.56 million, according to the survey results. In some past years, specialists generated far more revenue.

Overall, orthopedic surgeons generated the most revenue with a reported average of $2.68 million. Neurologists generated the least revenue with a reported average of $691,406, down quite a bit from 2010’s average of $907,317.

According to CFO reports, nephrologists had the largest jump in value, generating 69% more than in 2010. However, ophthalmologists had the largest decrease. In the 2013 survey, CFOs reported ophthalmologists generate an average of $725,000 million, down 56% from the reported $1.66 million in 2010.

Although orthopedic surgeons generate the most revenue, on average, for a hospital, they don’t receive the highest salary. Neurosurgeons are paid $669,000 a year and generate an average of $1.68 million a year. Meanwhile family practice physicians are the third biggest revenue drivers and yet they tie with pediatricians for the lowest salary. Family practice physicians earn just $189,000 a year and generate an average of $2 million a year.

The specialty with the smallest revenue-to-salary ratio, though, was otolaryngology, where the physicians earn half of what they generate.

According to the survey report, the increased revenue generated by primary care physicians may be a result of increased hospital employment of doctors.

Go to the next page to see the top five revenue drivers.

5. Internal medicine

Average revenue: $1,843,137

Average salary: $203,000

Salary-revenue ratio: 11%

4. General surgery

Average revenue: $1,860,655

Average salary: $343,000

Salary-revenue ratio: 18%

3. Family practice

Average revenue: $2,067,567

Average salary: $189,000

Salary-revenue ratio: 9%

2. Cardiology (invasive)

Average revenue: $2,169,643

Average salary: $512,000

Salary-revenue ratio: 24%

1. Orthopedic surgery

Average revenue: $2,683,510

Average salary: $519,000

Salary-revenue ratio: 19%