Physicians Report on Practice Finances, Productivity in Annual Report

April 22, 2019

A majority of physicians reported in 2018 that their financial situation had remained the same, and fewer said they were worse off compared with the previous year, according to the 90th annual Physicians Report.

A majority of physicians reported in 2018 that their financial situation had remained the same, and fewer said they were worse off compared with the previous year, according to the 90th annual Physicians Report from Medical Economics.

There was a slight increase in the percentage of physicians who said they were better off than a year ago. When taking a longer view, the results were less positive. Only 31% said they were financially better than 5 years ago compared with 34% who said they were about the same and 35% who said they were worse off than 5 years ago.

The top reasons why physicians said their practice finances improved from the previous year were (1) they were seeing more patients, (2) there was a change in practice model, (3) they were receiving value-based care incentives, (4) they had renegotiated payer contracts, and (5) they had added ancillary services.

The top 5 reasons physicians said their finances were worse year over year were (1) more time spent on uncompensated tasks, (2) higher overhead, (3) lower reimbursement from commercial payers, (4) greater technology costs, and (5) government regulations.

The average number of patients physicians were seeing each week was 85, which was down from more than 90 in 2012, but was up from 2017. In 2017, private practices saw an average of 89 patients per week compared with 91 in 2018, and hospital-owned practices saw an average of 80 patients compared with 90 in 2018. The biggest uptick was among hospital inpatient visits, which jumped from an average of 52 per week in 2017 to 78 per week in 2018.

“This survey, with a 90-year history, provides accurate benchmarks on compensation for primary care and many other subspecialties. It also delivers insightful feedback from physicians on important topics like malpractice insurance, work-life balance, and other areas,” Daniel Verdon, vice president of content and strategy for MultiMedia Healthcare, LLC, said in a statement.

The top 3 specialties with the greatest representation among respondents were family medicine (23%), internal medicine (19%), and pediatrics (19%). In addition, a majority were at practices of 6 or fewer physicians (62%), with 27% in solo practice. The majority were in private practice (55%) and respondents were overwhelmingly male (65%).

The report also asked physicians about salaries and malpractice insurance.