Survey: Health IT costs swelling at physician practices

Health IT costs are climbing as physician practices continue to adopt and optimize EHR systems, according to a recent cost survey report published by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

The report, which featured data from 2,411 groups, found that practices’ annual health IT expenditures per full-time equivalent physician jumped 27.8 percent from $15,211 in 2008 to a reported $19,439 in 2012.

Moreover, increases in median staffing costs occurred due to the addition of business operations, clinical and ancillary support professionals to the practice—with the total business operations staff per 10,000 patients increasing 8.69 percent since 2011, from 6.56 to 7.13.

Staff costs also rose as additional personnel are hired to manage operations and manage increasingly complex regulations. Increased staffing costs also may have been incurred as practices seek to improve their patients' satisfaction, according to MGMA.

“Although an electronic health record can be costly, it’s admirable that physician practices are leveraging sophisticated tools that produce higher efficiencies and impact patient care,” said Derek Kosiorek, principal, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group, in the announcement.  

“The patient’s experience extends far beyond the exam room. It’s important to consider how items such as scheduling availability, insurance verification and benefits determination, refill reminders, access to patient portals and other technology enhance your patients' experience. If you’re devoting resources to employing a team of professionals that can manage and make improvements on these fronts, you’re working to be more patient-centered overall,” added Kenneth T. Hertz, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group.  

The report, available here, also includes data categorized by specialty, organization ownership and geographic section, as well as data on staffing ratios, medical revenue, total operating costs and accounts receivable.