On Panel Size

June 1, 2005

I am starting up my own family practice. What panel size should I expect to have in a mature practice? The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reports that family practice physicians not doing obstetrics see a median of 4,594 ambulatory patients per year. Does that sound right to you?

Question: I am starting up my own family practice. What panel size should I expect to have in a mature practice? The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reports that family practice physicians not doing obstetrics see a median of 4,594 ambulatory patients per year. Does that sound right to you?

Answer: To clarify, the MGMA reports 4,594 ambulatory encounters a year, not patients.

Even if you have a relatively small patient panel, if those patients are sick or you see them a lot, you can still generate many visits and many payments. What pays is seeing patients, not having them pick you as their primary care physician on their insurance forms.

That's why a panel of 2,000 elderly patients represents a much different workload than 2,000 patients in their 20s and 30s.

In short, panel size matters less than encounters and charges.

That said, a normal panel size in family practice is about 2,500. A patient on your panel is generally one you have seen in the past two years.