Nearly 1 in 5 medical practices have seen 50% revenue drop: AMA

A male primary care doctor and his patient sit across from each other talking. Both are wearing masks
(Getty/Geber86)

Medical practices have seen a nearly one-third drop in their average revenue this year, according to a new survey from the American Medical Association (AMA).

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, practices have faced reduced volume, decreased revenue and increased expenses which threaten their viability, AMA officials said.

More than 80% of physicians said their revenue was lower than in February with nearly one in five saying the revenue drops were greater than 50%, the AMA survey of 3,500 physicians found. It was conducted between mid-July and August 2020.

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“Physician practices continue to be under significant financial stress due to reductions in patient volume and revenue, in addition to higher expenses for supplies that are scarce for some physicians,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. in a statement. “More economic relief is needed now from Congress as some medical practices contemplate the brink of viability, particularly smaller practices that are facing a difficult road to recovery.”

The survey also found:

  • More than 80% of physicians said they were providing fewer in-person patient visits than in February, with more than one-third indicating they'd seen in-person visits drop by more than 50%.
  • Nearly 70% of physicians were providing fewer total visits, including their telehealth visits, than in February with drops of more than 50% for more than one in five doctors.
  • Nearly 40% of docs said their spending on personal protective equipment (PPE) increased by more than 50% since February. Nearly 40% said acquiring PPE was still very or extremely difficult for smaller practices that lacked purchasing power to compete with larger health systems.