"If we were to look at total general operating costs, which are everything with the exception of support staff costs, we can see that since 2007, these items have [gone] up roughly 7.8%. But if we look [at] information technology [costs] since 2007, they went up by over 46%," says Evenson.
Evenson also says spending money on technology not only meets the needs of patients and the market, but it also enables practices to operate more efficiently.
Efficiency is also at the heart of another major cost driver: labor costs. RNs are in short supply, but so are senior level executives and administrators who can effectively run a medical practice. Their compensation packages are more robust because they are also in high demand. Running a medical practice is complex, says Evenson.
"It's much different than it's ever been in the past, and as a result, medical groups are looking for the strongest professionals possible."
Evenson points to MGMA's profile of members as an example of the need for increasingly skilled workers. "In 2012, over 50% of our membership has a graduate degree (MBA, JD, MD); whereas, in 2003 only 35% did," he says.