Health IT now costs $32,000 per doctor, annually
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Electronic health records don't come cheap

Health IT now costs $32,000 per doctor, annually

por Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
A new survey has revealed that the move to digitization is running over $32,000 per doctor per year.

“Physician-owned multispecialty practices spent more than $32,500 per full-time physician on information technology equipment, staff, maintenance, and other related expenses in 2015,” according to just-released data from the Medical Group Management Association.

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“While technology plays a crucial role in helping health care organizations evolve to provide higher-quality, value-based care, this transition is becoming increasingly expensive,” said Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, MMM, FAAP, CMPE, president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association.

“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," she said. "Unless we see significant changes in the final MIPS/APM rule, practice IT costs will continue to rise without a corresponding improvement in the care delivery process.”

That's a whopping 40 percent bump up for IT costs for doctors since 2009 – the last year before new regulations led to the health care digital era.

The findings are the result of the MGMA 2016 survey entitled, “Cost and Revenue: 2016 Report Based on 2015 Data,” said by the organization to be the biggest and most representative benchmarking tool for health care groups in the U.S.

The biggest surge in tech costs happened in 2010 and 2011, when the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act took place.

This act gave incentives to those in health care to make the move to certified electronic health records.

The incentives caused a “significant number” to implement IT systems.

After 2011, however, the incentives reduced considerably, forcing practices to pay a bigger portion of the costs to upgrade.

The growing complexity of EHR systems has led to a steady climb in costs for physician-owned multispecialty practices. Since 2009 they've risen by almost 47 percent per doctor.

“Increased staff costs suggest that larger investments in technology have yet to result in significant administrative efficiencies for practices,” according to MGMA.

There have been IT costs outside of straight EHR, as well. These notably include patient portals, which have streamlined communication with patients, scheduling and payment methods.

In fact, over “50 percent of nearly 850 respondents to a recent MGMA Stat poll” reported that appointments can be made via their portals.
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