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Physician Visits Down 7% in July

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, September 2, 2010

Total patient visits to physician offices were down 7.3% in July from the July 2009—the fourth consecutive month to post negative growth in physician visits, according to researchers with the North American offices of Deutsche Bank Securities. Overall, primary care visits were down by 5.7% for the month.

July appeared even weaker than June (with a 4.1% decline in visits) and the previous second quarter, with a 4.6% decrease in visits.

From a regional perspective, for total market growth for physician-patient visits, the West looked particularly weak in July (with an 8.5% decline) and in the 2nd quarter (with a 9.5% decline). In the South, total market growth for visits was down 7.9% in the South; down 5.1% in the East; and 6.9% in the Midwest.

As a result of these trends, volumes for major outpatient service provider chains—such as labs, ambulatory surgical centers, and imaging—may continue to be "constrained" into the third quarter, with a possible continued downward slide if these trends continue, the researchers said.

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