Hospitals continue to struggle financially with their physician practices, according to the Medical Group Management Association's latest cost survey of its member groups.
Hospital-owned multispecialty groups overall lost nearly $80,000 per physician in 1998, compared with a break-even year for groups owned by foundations, businesses or physicians, according to the MGMA.
The figure excludes any financial support by hospitals to their practices. It is the first year that the MGMA has broken out data for hospital-owned groups.
The data back up surveys in previous years that showed hospitals lost tens of thousands of dollars per physician following their mid-1990s buying spree of physician practices.
The MGMA said administrative staff at hospital-owned medical groups often lack intimate knowledge of a practice's finances, and physicians at hospital-based groups are less productive even though they make competitive salaries.
Some 1,300 MGMA member groups responded to the survey. Among its findings:
* Gross charges per physician were $669,831 for private practice physicians, compared with $455,314 for doctors at hospital-owned physician practices.
* Operating costs for multispecialty groups were 57.2%, compared with 72.4% for those owned by hospitals.
* Hospital-owned and family-practice groups had 39.5% of their claims in receivables for more than 120 days, compared with 19.6% for other groups.