Women primary care physicians spend more time with patients and conduct fewer visits on average compared to their male colleagues, which is likely contributing to the profession's gender pay gap, according to a new study.
Research shows women physicians earn 8 to 29% less than their male counterparts. Some have suggested the gap could be explained by female doctors working fewer hours on average than their male peers, a conclusion that has been supported by research relying mostly on physician survey data. The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, uses claims and electronic health record data, and found while women physicians in primary care work on average 2.6% fewer days per year than their male colleagues in the same practice, they spend on average 2.6% more time with patients and provide 10.8% less visits over a year.
The findings suggest that the gender pay gap for primary care physicians can be partly explained by female doctors having longer visits with patients, said Hannah Neprash, the study's senior author and assistant professor of health policy and management at University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. That added time means they can't complete as many visits in a day, which leads to lower revenue overall in fee-for-service payment. The analysis also found per day in the clinic, female physicians generated 10.1% less revenue on average than their male colleagues.