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The Economic Impact of Physicians, An Under Reported Story

March 07, 2018

24th Annual Physician Recruiting Incentive Report Offers National Benchmark Data, Market Analysis


Physicians Drive Economic Growth of Communities and Hospitals

By Phillip Miller

Often when health care analysts and policy makers look at the economics of medical practice they focus on costs. Physicians continue to drive the healthcare dollar through hospital admissions, the tests and equipment they order, prescriptions they write, and the surgical procedures they conduct. As a result, physicians can be tagged for the cost of healthcare, even though there is much more to high healthcare spending in the U.S. than physician practice patterns. This fact is explored in fascinating and eye-opening detail in the book  Poverty and the Myths of Healthcare Reform by the late Richard “Buz” Cooper, M.D. 

What generally is overlooked is the positive economic impact physicians have on their communities and affiliated hospitals. The AMA sponsored report released this month entitled The National Economic Impact of Physicians offers some compelling numbers. The new report, based on 2015 data, indicates that:

  • Office-based physicians generate an average of $3.1 million in economic output 
  • They support an average of 17 jobs 
  • They pay an average of $1,417,958 in wages and benefits 
  • They are responsible for $2.3 trillion dollars in economic output nationwide, up from $2.2 trillion in 2012

Merritt Hawkins periodically conducts a related survey of hospital CFOs looking at the amount of net revenue physicians generate annually on behalf of affiliated hospitals. The average for all physicians is about $1.5 million. Numbers from this survey and the AMA report are included in the Merritt Hawkins’ white paper  The Economic Impact of Physicians, which I would be happy to email to readers who request it.

What the data demonstrate is that physicians – beyond their vital role as caregivers – act as economic engines, driving employment and the tax base up in the communities in which they practice. Recruiting doctors is, of course, critical to maintaining access to quality care. Physician recruitment also can be thought of as an economic development plan. Just another reason to be happy that there is a “doctor in the house.”


Phillip Miller is Vice President of Communication for Merritt Hawkins and Staff Care, companies of AMN Healthcare. He can be reached here.

If you are interested in learning more about our advanced practice and physician staffing services,  request an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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