As the number of hospital-employed physicians continues to rise in the United States, a new survey shows physicians are major drivers of revenue for those facilities.
According to a survey released this week, a physician generates an average of almost $2.4 million per year in net revenue on behalf of his or her affiliated hospitals. That’s an increase of almost 52 percent from 2016 figures, according to the 2019 Physician Inpatient/Outpatient Revenue Survey.
Conducted by Merritt Hawkins, the survey asked hospital chief financial officers to quantify how much revenue physicians in 19 specialties generate through admissions, procedures, prescriptions, treatments, tests, and related activity.
Merritt Hawkins has conducted the survey almost every two years since 2002.
Cardiovascular surgeons topped the 2019 survey, averaging nearly $3.7 million a year, followed by invasive cardiologists at $3.5 million, neurosurgeons at $3.4 million, and orthopedic surgeons at $3.3 million.
Meanwhile, general internists generated an average of almost $2.7 million, while family physicians generated an average of $2.1 million.
The increase in employed versus independent physicians has played a key role in the rise in physician-generated revenue, the survey says.
In 2018, 49 percent of physicians were employed by a hospital, hospital-owned group, or physician-owned group, compared with 31.4 percent of independent physicians, according to a Merritt Hawkins survey. In 2012, 48.5 percent of physicians were independent, the 2018 survey shows.
In addition, the cost of hospital stays and the number of outpatient visits also have increased, based on the 2019 survey. An aging population that requires more health care services also has played a role in the increase in physician-generated revenue.
“Demographics are our destiny,” Travis Singleton, Merritt Hawkins’ executive vice president, said in a statement. “New delivery models that promote prevention, population health, and fee-for-value are laudable innovations but they don’t change the basic facts: People get older and require more medical care, with much of it ordered by or directly provided by physicians.”