Nearly two in three physicians in Georgia are multisite practitioners — that is, they have multiple hospital privileges and/or work in multisite group practices — according to findings recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
“An estimated 72% of land mass in the United States are currently designated as primary care health professional shortage areas, with more than 105 million individuals residing in these areas. Accurate physician practice location information is therefore important to assess health care accessibility and conduct health workforce planning,” Imam M. Xierali, PhD, of the department of family and community medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center wrote.
“However, collection of data regarding physician practice locations has been inconsistent, mixed with public/private initiatives with variable completeness and data quality,” he continued.
Xierali determined the mean number of practice sites per physician based on census data, the AMA Physician Masterfile and Georgia Medicaid Management Information System. He also determined differences in spatial accessibility based on single-site vs. multisite practice locations by ascertaining drive time (up to 1 hour) among population-weighted centroids of 5,533 census block groups in Georgia.
Xierali found that among 20,116 physicians, 63.2% reported multiple practice sites. The average number of practice sites for each physician was 2.6 for primary care physicians and 3.6 for other physicians. Those aged younger than 40 years, men, and members of a group practice were linked to a higher number of practice sites per physician. Most of the multisite practitioners had two service locations (n = 4,026) but some (n = 2,911) had six or more service locations.
He also found “spatial accessibility index changed substantially when controlling for multiple practice sites.”
Though his research was limited to the state of Georgia, Xierali told Healio Family Medicine his findings could likely be replicated elsewhere in the United States.
“I strongly believe multisite practicing is prevalent in other parts of the country and there may be such areas where multisite practicing is the only way. Mobile clinics, house calls and telemedicine are extending the reach of clinicians to their patients.”
“This study is just a baby step in understanding the prevalence of physician multisite practicing in Georgia. More studies, however, are needed to elucidate the prevalence and effect of multisite practicing in the nation,” he continued.
Xierali added that both patients and practitioners can benefit from multisite practicing.
“Generally speaking, multisite practicing can help improve/enlarge the catchment area of clinicians and lower personal travel expense for their patients; this could lead to better revenue and stable patient base for the practice overall, and better accessibility to care from patient point of view.” – by Janel Miller
Xierali reports no relevant financial disclosures.