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Primary Care Docs Average More Hospital Revenue Than Specialists

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 20, 2013

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 gene rated by general internal medicine physicians also increased, from $1,678,341 in 2010 to $1,843,137 in 2013, a growth rate of 9%, the survey said.

"If you want to go 10 years out and say the Affordable Care Act is going to do its job then this whole survey should be in theory turned on its ear," Singleton says.

"Revenue numbers per provider shouldn't be anything more than an internal measuring stick to see how your hospital is running because the vast majority of the profits your hospital realizes will be in shared savings through efficient and effective care, theoretically. You could argue that if in 10 years everything works like how we want it to work, high revenue per provider could be seen as a negative because you don't want to see a lot of imaging and tests and other things. I don't know that we will ever get there, but that is the utopia."

"That is why I think this spike per provider may be a short-lived spike. The ramifications you are seeing now are nothing more than people preparing to have a seat at the table."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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4 comments on "Primary Care Docs Average More Hospital Revenue Than Specialists"


RB (5/21/2013 at 12:49 PM)
Misleading conclusions, I agree. One conclusion I drew without knowing more facts than published in this article is that primary care doctors order more tests compared to specialists who perhaps practice more cost-efficient medicine. I'm a cardiologist and once, in a past life employed at a local hospital, I was told during my review that I didn't order enough echoes (based on what they expected when they hired me). Not every heart problem requires an echo to diagnose or treat.

Mary O'Brien (5/20/2013 at 3:04 PM)
"We recognize that the majority of this bump is because more of their physicians are employed now so there is greater control," he says. "These health systems have formulated these vast employee networks and it is no secret that an employed physician is going to be much more apt and even directed in some cases to push a lab or a test or a procedure or a referral down the hall and not down the street. They aren't going to send it to an independent imaging group or an independent lab like they used to. In essence that is not really creating new money. That is just pulling that money within the hospital walls." This comment also raises the issue that all these ancillary services being driven into the hospital setting by employed physicians will increase the cost of health care . The same service performed in the outpatient settings of independant providers are in most cases much more cost effective than when performed in the hospital setting.

P.Yadav (5/20/2013 at 2:16 PM)
Acquisition of small practices by bigger hospitals is the norm leaving the combined revenue unquestionably greater. It is important to point out that it takes a lot (time,energy,capital,risk)to establish a specialty clinic/practice hence, fewer available for acquisition. Most specialists like to work as employees from the beginning of their career. The difference in revenue may have to do more with market forces playing out than the so mentioned automatic shift of power towards PCPs in healthcare. I agree with the comment above- Several questions are left unanswered like how the revenue was calculated, did it include the referral cut for in hospital PCPs?