Health IT costs up 40% per physician since 2009 — to $32,500 last year

Dive Brief:

  • Physician-owned multispecialty practices spent more than $32,500 per physician on healthcare technology in 2015, according to a new analysis by the Medical Group Management Association.
  • That’s a 40% increase in technology costs since 2009, when the Health IT for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was passed. 
  • Related IT staff expenses have grown by nearly 47% since 2009, suggesting large investments in technology aren’t translating into administrative efficiencies for practices, the report says.

Dive Insight:

To tally IT costs, MGMA factored in equipment, staff, maintenance and other related expenses. The biggest cost jump was in 2010-2011, when HITECH was being implemented, but other industry trends — such as adding online patient portals where patients can access their personal health information — continue to push up technology costs.

With the move to value-based care, total operating costs also rose by about 15% per full-time physician last year — cutting into the more than 10% revenue gain medical practices experienced in 2015.

“While technology plays a crucial role in helping healthcare organizations evolve to provide higher-quality, value-based care, this transition is becoming increasingly expensive,” MGMA president and CEO Halee Fischer-Wright said in a release accompanying the survey. “We remain concerned that far too much of a practice’s IT investment is tied directly to complying with the ever-increasing number of federal requirements, rather than to providing better patient care.”

IT costs will continue to rise without “significant” changes to the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System/Advanced Alternative Payment Model final rule, he warned.

Those costs worry doctors, who ranked health technology and EHR implementation ninth out of 17 most worrisome practice and career concerns in the Medicus Firm’s annual physician practice preference survey, Forbes reports.

More than 3,100 practices took part in the annual survey. 

Filed Under: Health IT Practice Management
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