Operating costs for pediatric medical practices outpaced increases in revenue in 2003 even as many groups tacked on "administrative fees" to patients' bills, according to a new survey by the Medical Group Management Association.
In the association's first-ever cost survey of pediatric practices, officials said pediatric practices reported a 12.5% jump in total operating costs over the last five years while increasing revenue by about 10.3%. The survey also noted that pediatric practices reported only a 5% increase in staffing costs over the last five years, an indication that many have held down that expenditure as a way to offset the steady increases in operating expenses.
At the same time, the study said, about 17% of medical groups responding to the survey said they charge administrative fees for completion of forms. Of those, 50% charge $5 or less per form, 21% charge $6-$10 per form and 29% charge $11-$20 per form.
The survey, which MGMA conducted in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, also showed that larger practices tend to boast the highest incomes and lowest costs. Practices with nine or more full-time-equivalent physicians are the most profitable of all, reporting the highest revenue after operating costs as a percent of total medical revenue -- or about $226,500 per FTE physician.