[Characteristics of solo and group practices in Norwegian general practice]

Jostein Grytten, Irene Skau, Rune Sørensen
Tidsskrift for Den Norske Lægeforening: Tidsskrift for Praktisk Medicin, Ny Række 2005 May 19, 125 (10): 1357-60

BACKGROUND: The article describes changes in the size of practices after the introduction of the new Norwegian list patient system for general practitioners (GPs) and how length of patient lists, number of consultations, working hours and waiting time for an appointment vary according to the number of physicians in the practice.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The data were collected by a comprehensive questionnaire survey among general practitioners in the autumn of 2002. A total of 2306 physicians took part (response rate: 70%).

RESULTS: Before the list patient system was introduced, 18% of GPs worked in solo practices. With the new system in place, the proportion went down to 15%. About 60% of GPs worked in practices with 2-4 GPs. Out of young GPs in solo practices, 78% wished to work in practices with several colleagues, while 26% of GPs in practices with more than six physicians wished to reduce the size of the practice. The number of patients on the list and the number of curative working hours per GP decreased with increasing practice size. The number of consultations per hour did not vary with the number of GPs in the practice. Waiting time for an appointment for non-emergency treatment increased with increasing practice size.

INTERPRETATION: A lower service production per physician in large practices may partly be an effect of a relatively high proportion of women wanting to work fewer hours than their male colleagues. Irrespective of gender, group practices also attract GPs who want slightly reduced working hours.

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