Q&A: Picking the correct staff-to-doctor ratio

October 17, 2008

What would a reasonable doctor-to-staff ratio be, with a physician seeing five patients an hour?

Q: What would a reasonable doctor-to-staff ratio be, with a physician seeing five patients an hour?

A: It depends a lot on the specialty and other factors. Five patients an hour, or about 38 to 40 per day, is a lot. Few physicians, other than pediatricians, allergists, or dermatologists see that many. Maybe FPs in badly underserved areas, young practices treating mostly children, or physicians employed in HMO mills see that many patients. Some surgeons, such as orthopedists, will see that on a day of follow-up appointments. It also depends whether billing is handled in-house or through a service. The median for seeing around 25 to 30 patients per day is 3.5 to 4 staff members per doctor. So to see 40 patients a day, 5 to 7 staff members is adequate.