Ophthalmologists expressed a little more optimism than primary-care physicians, when asked to evaluate the financial state of their practices in a national survey conducted in 2011.
Nearly half (47%) of the ophthalmologists said their practice finances were about the same as the past year. About 18% said they were better and 33% said they were worse.
Among primary-care physicians, about 43% said things were about the same, 39% said they were worse, and only 14% said they were better.
These responses were collected in a national online survey conducted in June by Medical Economics, sister publication to Ophthalmology Times. More than 5,000 responses were included, all from physicians who indicated they are actively practicing and their primary field of practice is not academic/research. From these, 4,200 respondents were randomly selected for the final tabulation. Six percent (248 respondents) described themselves as ophthalmologists.
The survey asked about a wide range of practice issues, including earnings, productivity, and malpractice insurance premiums. A look at the overall findings follows.
Of the 248 participating ophthalmologists, 226 described themselves as actively practicing and 22 as semi-retired. All described their practice as at least partly surgical in nature.
The largest number (31%) have been practicing 21 to 30 years. Twenty-seven percent have been practicing more than 30 years, and 20% for 11 to 20 years. The remaining 22% have been practicing 10 or fewer years.
The group was predominantly male (83%).
When asked what type of community in which their primary office is located, 38% said suburban, 38% said urban, 11% said rural, and 11% said inner city. Geographically, 30% are located in the South, 27% in the Northeast, 23% in the West, and 17% in the Midwest.
The median annual income reported by all responding ophthalmologists (ones with ownership and those without ownership in the practice) was $238,000. The mean was $276,000.
For those without an ownership interest, median reported income was $188,000 (mean, $205,000). For those with an ownership interest, median income was $263,000 (mean, $318,000).
The survey found that physicians worked a median of 51 hours in their last full workweek. Ophthalmologists reported working a median of 46 hours (mean, 47.3).
By comparison, the highest median working hours were reported by cardiologists (63), hospitalists (61), urologists (59), neurologists/neurosurgeons (58), and gastroenterologists (58). Lowest median working hours were experienced by those in emergency/acute care (42).
Ophthalmologists' hours translated into a mean of 112 patient visits per week. Of these visits, 102 occurred in the office, seven in a hospital, and three at another location, such as a senior residential facility.
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