Objective: This report describes ambulatory care visits made to physician offices within the United States. Statistics are presented on selected characteristics of the physician's practice, the patient, and the visit. Highlights of trends in physician office visit utilization from 1997 through 2000 are also presented.
Method: The data presented in this report were collected from the 2000 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). NAMCS is part of the ambulatory care component of the National Health Care Survey that measures health care utilization across various types of providers. NAMCS is a national probability sample survey of visits to office-based physicians in the United States. Sample data are weighted to produce annual national estimates. Trends are based on NAMCS data from 1997 through 2000.
Results: During 2000, an estimated 823.5 million visits were made to physician offices in the United States, an overall rate of 300.4 visits per 100 persons. Approximately half of the visits were made to the patient's primary care physician. The proportion of office visits where a physician or physician group was the owner of the practice has steadily increased since 1997 (74.3 percent in 1997 versus 88.1 percent in 2000). Of all visits made to these offices in 2000, approximately 57 percent listed private insurance as the primary expected source of payment, and 29 percent were made by patients belonging to a health maintenance organization. There were an estimated 89.9 million injury-related visits during 2000, or 32.8 visits per 100 persons. Blood pressure check was the leading diagnostic screening test (45.3 percent) and males were more likely than females to have no diagnostic or screening services mentioned. The proportion of visits with at least one prescription for cardiovascular-renal drugs, hormones, or metabolic/nutrient drugs has increased since 1997.