News Feature | October 15, 2015

Technology Operating Costs On The Rise For Physician-Owned Practices

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Job Growth

According to an MGMA survey, medical practices are also seeing increased utilization of non-physician providers.

As demands and regulations such as EHRs and interoperability increase, medical practices are faced with growing need to incorporate technology and resulting rising technology operating costs, according to an MGMA survey.

Physician owned multispecialty practices spent 11.87 percent more on operating costs associated with technology this year over last year’s figures, spending $20,693 per FTE physician in 2014. This number has risen by 33.92 percent since 2010, demonstrating how large an impact the technology boom and mandated EHRs has had on individual practices.

Among survey respondents, 72 percent believed their EHR’s ability to decrease workload was difficult or very difficult; 54 percent said their EHR system increased their total operating costs; and 43 percent indicated they had yet to overcome the productivity challenges related to their EHR. This reflects the dissatisfaction of many healthcare providers with the transition to electronic health records.

“As technology continues to evolve, medical practices must likewise also evolve,” commented Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of MGMA. “The way patients ask for and receive care is changing. The increased use of technology can improve the quality of patient care by improving records management, optimizing workflow and meeting HIPAA compliance requirements.”

According to The MGMA Cost and Revenue Survey: 2015 Report Based on 2014 Data, medical practices also reported an increased utilization of non-physician providers (NPPs), per FTE physician, demonstrating 44.07 percent increase since 2010, rising from 0.59 to 0.85 non-physician provider FTEs per FTE physician. NPPS are being engaged as a stopgap solution to the physician shortage and the influx of new patients under the ACA.

“NPPs are essential members of our healthcare delivery team,” states Michael Brohawn, Practice Administrator at Orthopaedics East & Sports Medicine Center and MGMA member. “They improve patient care by increasing the efficiency of our physicians which allows them to focus on more acute needs. NPPs also improve patient satisfaction by creating greater access and appointment availability, and they reduce the direct and overhead costs of the practice.”

The MGMA survey was based on data from 3,120 groups. It is the largest and most robust cost survey and benchmarking tool in the industry, and categorizes data by specialty, organization ownership and geographic section. The report also features data on staffing ratios, medical revenue, total operating costs and accounts receivable.