While the attention often circles around large physician groups, most physicians still practice either solo or in smaller groups. That latest data is from 2003-4 and was published by DHHS in a January, 2007 report.
Among the findings:
1. Since 2001–02, the ratio of office-based physicians to population has not changed. The annual volume of visits per physician, however, decreased by 6%. Most of the decrease occurred in the Northeast (15%) and in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) (7%).
3. Two-thirds of physicians worked in group practices with two or more physicians. In 2003–04, 35.8 percent of physicians were in solo practices, 43.1 percent were in single-specialty group practices, and 21.1 percent were in multi-specialty group practices. 11.8 percent were in two physician groups, 26.9 percent in 3-5 physician groups, 14.8 percent in 6-10 physician groups, and 10.7 percent in groups of 11 or more physicians.
4. In 2003–04, office-based physicians reported an average of 73.7 office visits, 12.7 hospital visits, and 11.1 telephone consultations during their last full week of practice.
5. About one out of five physicians (19.0 percent) reported using electronic medical records (EMRs). .
Professional practice do enjoy some economies of scale, but there are also dis-economies of scale. Larger groups become corporations and bureaucracies with the same problems and inefficiencies as in any other large organization. Smaller groups can change and adapt to change more quickly. The challenge is in some of the business functions, such as the ability to raise capital for significant investments in information technology tools that will increase efficiency and improve care. This is the most significant challenge for physicians – making the transition to using decision support tools on a large scale.