HIT Costs Increase Sharply

Over the last three years, information technology costs have climbed a steep 27.8% for medical practices and staff costs have increased as well with new hires to manage the services.

Over the last three years, information technology costs have climbed a steep 27.8% for medical practices, according to a new report.

The Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) Cost Survey Report revealed that the median annual expenditure per full-time equivalent physician for IT costs were $19,439 in 2012, up from a median of $15,211 in 2008.

“Implementing and optimizing information technology is a significant investment for physician practices,” Derek Kosiorek, principal, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group said in a statement. “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.”

While using this technology, physician practices and hospitals are investing in knowledgeable and certified staff to manage these services, according to MGMA. And as a result, median staffing costs have also increased from adding business operations, clinical and ancillary support professionals.

Since 2011, the total business operations staff per 10,000 patients increased 8.69%. Practices and hospitals are hiring additional personnel to manage operations and contend with the complex regulatory environment.

One reason why additional staff hires are being made and costs increased is because practices are seeking to improve their patients experience and satisfaction with their visit beyond just the time spent with the health care provider.

“The patient’s experience extends far beyond the exam room,” Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group said in a statement. “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.”