Characteristics of office-based physicians and their practices: United States, 2003-04

Esther Hing, Catharine W Burt
Vital and Health Statistics. Series 13, Data From the National Health Survey 2007, (164): 1-34

OBJECTIVE: This report presents demographic and practice characteristics of nonfederal physicians who were primarily engaged in office-based patient care in the United States during 2003-04.

METHODS: The data in this report were collected during the physician induction interview for the 2003 and 2004 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys (NAMCS). NAMCS includes a national probability sample of nonfederal office-based physicians who saw patients in an office setting. It excludes physicians in the specialties of anesthesiology, radiology, and pathology, as well as physicians practicing in hospitals, institutions, and occupational settings. Sample data were weighted to produce national estimates of the number of physicians and characteristics of their practices.

RESULTS: During 2003-04, an average annual of 311,200 office-based physicians provided patient care in the United States, an overall rate of 108.4 physicians per 100,000 persons. Approximately three-fourths of office-based physicians owned or were part owner of their practice, two-thirds of physicians worked in group practices with two or more physicians, and one-half of office-based physicians were primary care specialists. Physicians with 10 or more managed care contracts spent less time per patient visit, but had more weekly visits compared with physicians with fewer than three managed care contracts. The average total weekly number of encounters (consults or visits) and the average number of office visits per physician were greater among primary care specialists compared with other specialty types. About one-fourth of physicians (25.5 percent), reported that they did not accept new Medicaid patients and 13.9 percent did not accept new Medicare patients-similar to previous years.

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