MGMA: There's more money in independent practices...sort of

Apparently it pays--quite literally--to be part of an independent physician practice as opposed to a hospital-owned practice. According to a Medical Group Management Association survey presented at the group's annual conference in New Orleans earlier this week, the median total revenue at independent practices per full time physician in 2009 was just over $780,000, vs. roughly $448,000 for hospital or integrated delivery system-owned practices, a 44 percent difference reports Medscape Medical News

But those numbers don't necessarily indicate that independent practices are more lucrative than their hospital/IDS-owned counterparts. Rather, hospital/IDS-owned practices tend to "reallocate income and costs," say the authors of the Cost Survey for Integrated Delivery System Practices: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data

"Everyone talks about how hospitals lose money on their own practices," MGMA president and CEO William Jessee said at a press conference. "And yes, they have lower revenue than non-hospital-owned practices, but a lot of this comes from how they account for the revenue. For example, a non-hospital-owned practice may account differently for the ancillaries they purchase, so there are some accounting differences." 

In terms of compensation, doctors working in independent practices earned close to 20 percent more than those in hospital/IDS-owned practices. On average, non-hospital/IDS-owned doctors took home $294,984, compared with $353,549 for hospital/IDS-owned docs. 

The survey reports statistics from 1,003 practices nationwide. 

For more information:
- read this Medscape Medical News article (registration required)
- purchase the MGMA report for yourself

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