The American Medical Association (AMA) today released new data on physician practice arrangements that shows private practice medicine remains strong despite an increase in hospital employment. This is the first nationally representative study of physician practice arrangements in five years.
 
“To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of private practice medicine have been greatly exaggerated,” said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, “This new data shows that while there has been an increase in hospital employment, more than half of physicians (53.2%) were self-employed in 2012, and 60% worked in practices wholly owned by physicians. Needed innovation in payment and delivery reform must recognize the wide range of practice types and sizes that exist today so all physicians can participate in the move to a more patient-centered system that rewards high-quality care and reduces costs.”
 
While this new study shows 60% of physicians in physician-owned practices, there has been a trend toward more hospital employment during the last five years, according to the AMA report. In 2012, 29% of physicians worked either directly for a hospital (5.6%) or for a practice that was at least partially owned by a hospital (23.4%). A 2007/2008 AMA survey did not distinguish between direct hospital employment and employment in a hospital-owned practice, but found that 16.3 % of physicians worked in one of the two settings.
 
Other important findings include:
 
•    The percentage of physicians who were practice owners in 2012 decreased 8 percentage points from 2007/2008.
•    Eighteen percent of physicians were in solo practice, down 6 percentage points over 5 years.
•    Single specialty practice was the most common practice type in 2012, accounting for 45.5% of physicians.
 
This study is part of the AMA’s Policy Research Perspective series, which is available online at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/advocacy/health-policy/policy-research.page.