National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2005 summary

Donald K Cherry, David A Woodwell, Elizabeth A Rechtsteiner
Advance Data 2007 June 29, (387): 1-39

OBJECTIVES: This report describes ambulatory care visits made to physician offices in the United States. Statistics are presented on selected characteristics of the physician's practice, the patient, and the visit.

METHODS: The data presented in this report were collected in the 2005 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a national probability sample survey of visits to nonfederal office-based physicians in the United States. Sample data are weighted to produce annual national estimates of doctor visits.

RESULTS: During 2005, an estimated 963.6 million visits were made to physician offices in the United States, an overall rate of 331.0 visits per 100 persons. In one-quarter of office visits, electronic medical records were utilized by physicians, while at 83.9 percent of visits, claims were submitted electronically. As the baby boomer generation aged, there was a shift in utilization, as the majority of visits in 1995 were by patients 25-44 years of age compared with 2005, when most visits were by patients 45-64 years of age. In 2005, 52.7 percent of office visits were made by patients with at least one chronic condition. Hypertension was the most frequent condition (22.8 percent), followed by arthritis (14.3 percent), hyperlipidemia (13.5 percent), and diabetes (9.8 percent). Medication therapy was reported at 679.2 million office visits, accounting for 70.5 percent of all office visits. In 2005, there were about 2.0 billion drugs prescribed, resulting in an overall rate of 210.7 drugs per 100 visits. Drugs with amoxicillin were more likely to be new prescriptions (85.4 percent), while ibuprofen and acetaminophen were just as likely to be a new or continued drug. The overall mean time spent with a physician, excluding psychiatrists, has not changed since 1995; however, visits with a duration of 6-10 minutes decreased by 28% from 1995, while visits lasting 16-30 minutes increased by 20%.

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