Physician practices bemoan skyrocketing cost of IT maintenance

MGMA survey shows some spending $19,000 per doctor, per year.
By Mike Miliard
12:13 PM
doctor practices high cost of IT maintenance

Physician office IT costs are rising as much as $2,000 to $4,000 more per physician compared with the prior – totalling $14,000 to $19,000 annually per doctor, depending on specialty, according to the 2017 MGMA DataDive Cost and Revenue Survey released this past week by the Medical Group Management Association.

Between 2015 and 2016, operating expenses for practices increased at nearly the same rate as revenue, according to the survey.

Those costs – which include purchased IT (maintenance of electronic health records and patient portals, for instance) and contracted expenses for upkeep of hardware and software – are less for hospital-owned practices, however.

Practices that were able to bolster their bottom line often did so with help from non-physician providers and support staff, according to MGMA. Practices with a higher NPP to physician ratio – 0.41 or more NPPs for each full-time equivalent physician – earned more in revenue after operating cost than those with fewer NPPs, irrespective of specialty.

Those with more support staff also showed increased productivity, the survey showed.

"Contrary to what some may believe, with increased staffing come much larger gains in revenue after operating cost, as well as productivity," said Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, president and CEO at MGMA, in a statement.

MGMA's Cost and Revenue Survey was based on comparative data of more than 2,900 organizations and 40 specialties and practice types.

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