As Primary care physicians (PCPs) become more in demand, they are now generating more revenue. In 2012, PCPs generated 1.56 million in average net revenue to their associated hospital while specialists brought in only $1.4 million. This is according to a reliable link of more than 100 hospital chief financial officers conducted by Merritt Hawkins. A significant change from back in 2012 when specialized physicians were bringing in more than $2 million more than primary care doctors.
So with this shift in superior need and recognizable bank favor, wouldn’t it be fair to assume that PCPs were being paid equally, if not more than the specialists? This is certainly not the case. In fact, according to Forbes.com, they are making nearly $90,000 less on average than their more concentrated colleagues. It would be completely false to say one job is more important than the other, as both have the sole purpose of ensuring public safety with their medical expertise.
So what sparked the turn of profit makers in the industry? New approaches to health care delivery stress lower cost outpatient care, therefore the revenue made from specialists, including cardiologists and pulmonologists, to hospitals is decreasing. One of these approaches is with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) which provides medical care services to seniors through Medicare health insurance contracts. ACOs and patient-centered medical homes are also increasingly being paid by Medicare and insurance companies through their bundled payments that accentuate primary care instead of specialized care.
Primary care doctors are paid much less per patient visit or procedure than a specialist is. This means that they must fit that many more patients into their day. More people, more hours, less money. Doesn’t seem very fair, does it? These facts are drawing incoming medical students to turn their focus to the benefits of being a particular study physician rather than a PCP. Experts are beginning foreshadow an eventual salary increase to hopefully promote the job as well as decrease the growing and unmet need for Primary Care Doctors. In the meantime, locum tenens are avidly being sought to fill the many open positions, with excellent benefits to draw them in.