54% of radiologists work in private practice, while other docs report lower ownership levels

About 54% of radiologists work in private practice, while the number across all physicians dropped below 50% for the first time since the American Medical Association began tracking these numbers.

The AMA’s every-other-year survey found that 49.1% of patient care physicians worked in doc-owned practices, down from 54% in 2018. President Susan Bailey, MD, noted that several factors are contributing to shifts in practice size and ownership, including mergers and acquisitions, closures, and different workplace preferences among younger docs.

The survey was conducted between September and October and included 3,500 physicians. But Bailey said it’s still too early to say how the public health crisis is impacting these numbers.

“To what extent the COVID-19 pandemic was a contributing factor in the larger than usual changes between 2018 and 2020 is not clear,” Bailey said in a statement. “Physician practices were hit hard by the economic impact of the early pandemic as patient volume and revenues shrank while medical supply expenses spiked. The impact of these economic forces on physician practice arrangements is ongoing and may not be fully realized for some time.”

Rads’ 54% mark in private practice represented an uptick from nearly 51% reported in 2018. About 37% of radiologists in this year’s survey said they are employed, and the final 8.5% identified themselves as independent contractors. Only surgical specialties landed higher on the list than radiology, with 61.5% saying they work at a physician-owned practice.

Meanwhile, only about 53% of rads said they work in a single-specialty practice; only anesthesiology reported a higher number at 55%. More than 22% said they work in a multi-specialty group, and 11% identified as a direct hospital employees or contractors. The remainder said they work in either a solo practice (4%) or identified as “other” (9%).

The overall drop in private practice represents the largest two-year change since AMA launched the survey back in 2012. You can find the rest of the survey data here.

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