Characteristics and trends in ambulatory otolaryngology visits and practices

Neil Bhattacharyya
Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 2012, 147 (6): 1060-4

OBJECTIVE: To determine characteristics and trends for outpatient otolaryngology visits and practices in the United States.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of national survey database.

SETTING: Ambulatory care settings in the United States.

METHODS: Outpatient otolaryngology records from 2005 to 2009 were extracted from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Visit characteristics were assessed for patient type (established versus new), expected source of payment, and average time spent with the physician. Provider characteristic variables were assessed for practice type (solo versus group), employment status of the physician, electronic claims submission, and the use of electronic medical records in the practice. Trends were analyzed for the above and the average number of outpatient visits per otolaryngologist per year.

RESULTS: A total of 98.8 ± 7.0 million outpatient otolaryngology office visits, consisting of 27.9 ± 2.1 million new patient visits and 70.9 ± 5.3 million established patient visits, were studied. Expected sources of payment consisted of private insurance (65.1%), Medicare (21.1%), Medicaid (9.2%), and self-pay (2.0%). These sources did not change over the 5 calendar years (P = .301). Practitioners consisted of solo (30.7%) and group (69.3%) practices. Electronic medical records were in use in 40.2%. Electronic medical record penetration did significantly increase over the 5 years to 57.7% in 2009 (P = .002). The number of outpatient visits per otolaryngologist per year remained remarkably consistent over the years at about a mean of 3325 ± 299 visits seen per year (P = .580).

CONCLUSION: Characteristics of otolaryngology outpatient visits have remained largely consistent over the past 5 years. Electronic medical record penetration has noticeably increased. These results help validate prior Academy socioeconomic surveys.

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