Characteristics of office-based physicians and their medical practices: United States, 2005-2006

Esther Hing, Catharine W Burt
Vital and Health Statistics. Series 13, Data From the National Health Survey 2008, (166): 1-34

OBJECTIVES: This report describes average annual estimates of nonfederal, office-based physicians who saw patients in the United States during 2005-2006. The report also uses a multiplicity estimator from the physician sample to estimate the number and characteristics of medical practices with which physicians are associated. Selected physician estimates of characteristics obtained only in 2006 are also presented, as well as selected trends in physician practice characteristics between 2001-2002 and 2005-2006.

METHODS: Data presented in this report were collected during the induction interview of physicians during the 2005 and 2006 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys (NAMCS). NAMCS is a national probability sample survey of nonfederal physicians who see patients in an office setting in the United States. Radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pathologists--as well as physicians who treat patients solely in hospital, institutional, and occupational settings--are excluded. Sample weights for physician data use information on the number of physicians in the sampled physician's practice to produce national estimates of medical practices.

RESULTS: During 2005-2006, an average of 308,900 office-based physicians practiced in an estimated 163,800 medical practices in the United States. In 2005-2006, nearly 1 in 10 medical practices were multispecialty groups (8.9 percent) and accounted for 20.3 percent of all physicians. In 2006, 11.5 percent of medical practices employed at least one mid-level provider and about one-third of medical practices performed electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) tests (33.5 percent) and lab tests (30.2 percent) onsite. Between 2001-2002 and 2005-2006, the percentage of physicians not accepting new Medicaid patients increased by 16 percent and the percentage not accepting new charity cases increased by 23 percent.

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