Operating costs and the technology boom have both led to more spending by physician-owned practices in recent years. In 2014, spending per full-equivalent physician on technology was $20,693, according to Health Data Management. That cost has increased by almost 24 percent in the past five years. According to HDM, a Medical Group Management Association survey found a 12 percent increase in spending from 2013 to 2014 among physician-owned, multispecialty practices. These costs were associated entirely with technology.
A valuable investment
Despite the large spending increase, healthcare technology investments have been well worth it thus far. According to the survey conducted by the MGMA, medical practices have been implementing new technologies for the enhancement of patient care quality. Due largely in part to the federal mandate to switch to digital records, most practices have begun to follow meaningful use standards. Over 3,100 groups were surveyed and findings show that through improving the management of records, meeting compliancy requirements and optimizing work flow, these practices have been invested in the transition to electronic health records aimed at improving patient care.
However, according to CIO magazine, healthcare information technology encompasses much more than just implementing electronic health records. Starting with the infrastructure of an organization, healthcare IT services include everything from finances and patient care to population health management, administrative services and everything in between. These services, the magazine stated, are what everyone relies on to get the job done, yet not everyone realizes it. To make the most of these hefty healthcare technology investments, it is vital that organizations are first perfecting their foundations.
By prioritizing the effectiveness of proper ground level proceedings, organizations will be able to optimize their investments. Making the most out of these investments is important because patient care and medicine are also continuing to change with technology. By understanding the relationship between each level of healthcare technology-related service, physician practices, patients and providers alike will reap the benefits.
The MGMA survey also found that practices are relying more and more on non-physician providers, with surgical single-specialty practices seeing the largest jump, according to Physician's Money Digest. This is partly due to the Affordable Care Act causing an increased number of patients. The use of NPPs is said to have helped improve patient care by allowing physicians more time to focus on patients with the most pressing needs. These practices are now calling on 0.85 NPPs per full-time physician, a significant increase from 2010 numbers. Hiring NPPs aids in bringing down costs while simultaneously providing better patient care.
"NPPs are essential members of our health care delivery team," said 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."