ECU Physicians productivity continues to rise
By Doug Boyd
(Feb. 26, 2013)
Health care providers with ECU Physicians are delivering more care to more patients, officials said Thursday.
Through January, the group medical practice of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University billed for $204.4 million in total charges, a 7.5 percent increase for the first seven months of the fiscal year compared to the same period a year earlier. Physicians also performed 0.4 percent more procedures, saw 8.5 percent more outpatients and 7.6 percent more emergency patients than a year earlier.
That's with only four more physicians in the fold than a year ago.
"We are continuing to grow our practice," Brian Jowers, executive director of ECU Physicians, said during a meeting Thursday of the health sciences committee of the ECU board of trustees.
Meanwhile, operating revenue is below budget, a fact Jowers attributed to a delay in Medicaid upper payment limit reimbursements due to the federal government's recent "fiscal cliff" wrangling. He said he expects those payments to arrive by mid-March.
Through Jan. 31, operating revenues of $96.5 million trail operating expenses of $99.3 million. Operating expenses are $4.1 million below budgeted levels.
Operating revenue and expenses are those directly related to providing patient care. Counting non-operating and other revenue and expenses, the practice is $3 million in the red, but that's not a significant cause for concern, Jowers said. The Medicaid upper payment limit reimbursement should more than offset that deficit, he said.
In the November committee meeting, Jowers told trustees that ECU Physicians typically loses money during the first few months of the fiscal year but makes up the shortfall during the second half of the year.
Contract revenue the practice receives from Vidant Medical Center and other agencies is also down 7.6 percent from a year ago. Jowers attributed much of that to the hospital's implementation of a new billing system that has caused payment delays.
ECU Physicians' cash reserves continue to be a bright spot. Jowers said they are at approximately $37 million, up from $20 million a year ago and equivalent to 84 days of operating cash.