"In theory, if that happens, then that is where you want to invest all of your dollars, because not only are you controlling the outcome, but you are controlling the expense of your specialists."
Even with the newfound emphasis on primary care, key specialties remain top revenue generators for hospitals. Orthopedic surgeons topped the list of specialists examined in the survey. A single, full-time orthopedic surgeon generates an average of $2,683,510 a year. Invasive cardiologists generate $2,169,643, general surgeons $1,860,655, and neurosurgeons $1,684,523, the survey found.
Singleton says he's not sure how long the trend toward higher average revenues will continue for physicians.
"We know the employed physician sees 17% fewer patients than their private counterpart, and it's greater in some specialties. So it wouldn't surprise me if we looked in two or three years from now and the actual revenue per provider was down in some scenarios," he says.
"That doesn't mean the whole pie is smaller. You may have the same amount of revenue but you just may take more primary care providers to generate the same revenue, or you may see some that are leaked towards a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant as they start to grow these networks. But these are all new networks for hospital to control in a lot of cases."