The State of Family Medicine: 2017

 

With tremendous change taking place in health care, the mood among family physicians is anxious, but there are reasons to be hopeful.

Fam Pract Manag. 2017 Jan-Feb;24(1):26-33.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

Almost 50 years ago, in 1969, family medicine was officially recognized as a medical specialty in the United States. In many ways, the past five decades could be described as an uphill climb as the new specialty fought for respect and proved its value by delivering higher quality care for a lower price.1

Today, amid massive shifts in payment and care delivery models, how are family physicians faring? This article explores that question, drawing on data from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and other sources, and examines what lies ahead for the specialty.

The good news

We begin with one of the most basic measures of success – money. In recent years, family physicians have seen modest gains in real income. The mean for all family physicians in 2014, the most recent AAFP data available, was $195,310; the median was $185,000 – a 15.6 percent increase from five years earlier. (See “Distribution of family physicians by annual income.”) Meanwhile, the income gap between primary care and non-primary-care physicians has decreased from 44.6 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2015, according to AAFP data.

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DISTRIBUTION OF FAMILY PHYSICIANS BY ANNUAL INCOME

DISTRIBUTION OF FAMILY PHYSICIANS BY ANNUAL INCOME

Median income for all family physicians increased to $185,000 in 2014, although it varied widely; the mean was $195,310. Incomes averaged $180,000 for employed physicians and $200,000 for owners. Five years earlier, the median income for all family physicians was $160,000, the equivalent of $176,556 in 2014 dollars.


Source: AAFP. 2015 Practice Profile. July 2016.

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AVERAGE HOURS SPENT PER WEEK IN PRACTICE

AVERAGE HOURS SPENT PER WEEK IN PRACTICE

On average, family physicians spend 47 hours per week in practice with nearly 33 hours spent in direct, face-to-face patient care. These numbers are down slightly from five years ago.


Source: AAFP. 2015 Practice Profile. July 2016.

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AVERAGE NUMBER OF PATIENTS SEEN PER WEEK BY SETTING

AVERAGE NUMBER OF PATIENTS SEEN PER WEEK BY SETTING

On average, family physicians see 83

About the Authors

Brandi White is senior editor and David Twiddy is associate editor of Family Practice Management.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

 

References

show all references

1. Starfield B, Shi L, Macinko J. Contribution of primary care to health systems and health. Milbank Q. 2005;83(3):457–502....

2. Singleton T, Miller P. Employment contracts for family physicians in an evolving market. Fam Pract Manag. 2016;23(4):28–32.

3. Sinsky C, Colligan L, Li L, et al. Allocation of physician time in ambulatory practice: a time and motion study in four specialties. Ann Intern Med. 2016;165(11):753–760.

4. Mostashari F. The paradox of size: how small, independent practices can thrive in value-based care. Ann Fam Med. 2016;14(1):5–7.

5. White B. The state of family medicine. Fam Pract Manag. 2012;19(1):20–26.

 
 

Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact fpmserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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