10 physician specialties that generate the most revenue for hospitals

Ayla Ellison - Print  |

The average amount of revenue physicians generate for hospitals has jumped significantly in recent years, and a decline in patient volumes and elective procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic is putting hospitals and physicians in a fragile financial position. 

Independent and employed physicians generate an average of about $2.38 million each for their affiliated hospitals, according to survey results released by Merritt Hawkins last year. That's up significantly from $1.6 million in 2016, the last time the survey was conducted. 

COVID-19 has created a cash crunch for many physicians, and hospitals across the nation are facing financial damage caused by the pandemic. Hospitals are losing more than $50 billion per month, and they're estimated to lose $200 billion between March 1 and June 30, according to a report from the American Hospital Association.

More than $161 billion of the expected revenue losses will come from canceled services, including nonelective surgeries and outpatient treatment. A recent study showed patient visits for heart attack symptoms, stroke and breast cancer were down year over year in March and April. The steep decline in patient volumes has forced hundreds of hospitals and physician groups to implement cost-cutting measures, including furloughs and layoffs. 

The amount of revenue physicians generate for hospitals varies across specialties, but the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to push those amounts lower this year. Below are the 10 physician specialties that generated the highest average annual net revenue for hospitals and the average salaries for those specialities, according to the Merritt Hawkins 2019 Physician Inpatient/Outpatient Revenue Survey. 

1. Cardiovascular surgery

2. Cardiology (invasive)

3. Neurosurgery

4. Orthopedic surgery

5. Gastroenterology

6. Hematology/Oncology

7. General surgery

8. Internal medicine

9. Pulmonology

10. Cardiology (noninvasive)

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