Physicians generate $1.4 million annually


Primary Care Physicians Exceed Specialists for the First Time


By Phil Miller, Vice President of Communications Merrit Hawkins,

While physicians are the primary providers of medical care at the nation’s hospitals, a new survey suggests they also remain key drivers of hospital revenue. According to the survey, a single physician generates an average $1,448,458 a year in net revenue on behalf of his or her affiliated hospital.


Conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare, the survey asked hospital chief financial officers (CFOs) to quantify how much revenue physicians in 18 specialties generated for their hospitals in the last 12 months. This included both net inpatient and outpatient revenue derived from patient referrals, tests, prescriptions, and procedures performed or ordered in the hospital.


Orthopedic surgeons topped the list of specialists examined in the survey. According to survey data, a single, full-time orthopedic surgeon generates an average of $2,683,510 a year on behalf of his or her affiliated hospital, invasive cardiologists generate $2,169,643, general surgeons $1,860,655, and neurosurgeons $1,684,523.


However, for the first time since the periodic survey was conducted in 2002, primary care physicians generated more annual revenue on average for their hospitals than did specialists. According to the survey, primary care physicians (family physicians, general internal medicine physicians, and pediatricians) generated a combined average of $1,566,165 for their affiliated hospitals in the last year. The remaining 15 specialties included in the survey generated a combined annual average of $1,424,917, the lowest average in the five years the survey has been conducted.


“A seismic shift is taking place in medicine, away from specialists and toward primary care physicians” notes Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins. “Primary care physicians are increasingly employed by hospitals and in new delivery models, such as Page 2 accountable care organizations. They are taking a greater role in driving both the delivery of care and the flow of health care dollars.”


When the survey was last conducted in 2010, family physicians generated an average of $1,692,832 a year on behalf of their affiliated hospitals. In 2013, that number grew to $2,067,567, an increase of 22%. Revenue generated by general internal medicine physicians also increased, from $1,678,341 in 2010 to $1,843,137 in 2013, a growth rate of 9%.


According to Smith, the survey also demonstrates that volume of services performed by physicians is still the key economic determinant for hospitals, rather than quality of care achieved.


“Hospitals still get higher rewards the more that physicians do for patients within their walls,” Smith observes. “Volume may not be paramount in the value-based system of the future, but it remains the name of the game today.” The survey was emailed and mailed to hospital CFOs nationwide and is based on data submitted by 102 facilities. Complete survey results are available at



Merritt Hawkins is the largest physician search and consulting firm in the United States and is a company of AMN Healthcare the leader in innovative health care work force solutions.