ECU Physicians has good start to fiscal year
By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services
(Dec. 3, 2012)
A little more than a fourth of the way through the fiscal year, the medical group practice at East Carolina University is making money on operations and building its cash reserves, officials said Thursday.
Through the first four months of the fiscal year, ending Oct. 31, ECU Physicians had $56.1 million in operating revenue and $56 million in operating expenses, according to Brian Jowers, executive director of ECU Physicians, the faculty practice plan of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.
Operating revenue and expenses are those directly related to providing patient care. Counting non-operating and other revenue and expenses, the practice lost $800,000, but that's not a significant cause for concern, Jowers said.
"Our usual process for the past several years is we lose a lot of money in the first five to seven months then we begin to make it back in February," Jowers said during a meeting of the health sciences committee of the ECU board of trustees.
More promising, he said, is that ECU Physicians has upped its cash reserves to $39.6 million, up from $15.8 million at the end of fiscal year 2012. That equals approximately 90 days of operating cash – money the practice would need if for some reason patient care reimbursements stopped.
That's below the 180 days of cash Jowers would like to have but better than the 30 days or so of cash that the practice had on hand a few years ago.
In other measures, compared to October 2011, ECU Physicians in October this year billed for $13.4 percent more charges, collected 6.3 percent more in professional fees, performed 3.3 percent more procedures and saw 11.5 percent more outpatient visits. At Vidant Medical Center, ECU physicians saw 5.1 percent more emergency patients.