A report from the Medical Group Management Association, based on a survey of 1,324 primary care and specialty practice members, finds significant financial benefits to using an electronic health records system.

Englewood, Colo.-based MGMA reports that independent practices had a median of $49,916 more revenue after operating costs per full-time physician in 2009 than paper-based practices. Hospital- or delivery system-owned multi-specialty practices with an EHR had a median operating margin in 2009 of $42,042 more than paper-based practices.

The highest information technology costs for non-owned practices occurs in the first year after installation, according to the report, with medical records and transcription costs deceasing in subsequent years. Median information technology staffing per FTE physician increases slightly after five years from 0.13 to 0.15, but medical records staff per physician falls by 44 percent from 0.34 to 0.19, according to the report.

After five years of EHR use, surveyed independent practices reported a median operating margin of 10.1 percent higher than practices in their first year of using an EHR.

The report, "Electronic Health Records Impacts on Revenue, Costs and Staffing: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data," is available for purchase here. The cost is $320 for MGMA members and $620 for non-members.

--Joseph Goedert


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