Data from more than 125,000 physicians show that healthcare finance leaders nationwide have reason to be cautiously optimistic. After grappling with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year, physician practices are beginning to see improvements — albeit small ones — across key financial and operational performance metrics.

Here are the top five financial and operational KPIs from Q1 2021 for physician practices across the U.S.:

 

#1 — Volume, productivity continue to rise

In the quarter ending March 2021, Physician wRVUs per FTE increased 3.6% compared to the same quarter last year. Physician wRVUs per FTE increased 2.8% across all specialty cohorts from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021.

wRVUs per FTE: Rolling Three-Month Period

 

#2 — Revenue increases slowly

Revenue continued a slow upward trend in March 2021. Net Revenue per Physician FTE increased 1% from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021. However, revenue remains 9.4% higher year-over-year (YOY).

Net Revenue per Physician FTE: Rolling Three-Month Period

 

#3 — Expenses climb quickly, surpass earliest pandemic levels

Physician practices had an expensive start to the year. A 4.4% increase in quarter-over-quarter (QOQ) and a 4% increase in YOY Total Expense resulted in a peak average of $815,516 per FTE.

Total Direct Expense per Physician FTE: Rolling Three-Month Period

 

#4 — QOQ increase in investment driven by expense

Health systems invested an average of $239,502 per physician in Q1 2021, representing an 8% increase from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021. However, Investment per FTE remains 1.9% below Q1 2020’s pre-pandemic levels.

#5 — Physician compensation contributes to rising expenses

Physician Compensation per FTE is part of the increase in expense this quarter, as the data shows a 7.3% increase QOQ, although Q1 2021 Compensation per FTE is only 1.1% higher than Q1 2020.

 

Spotlight on Obstetrics and Gynecology

The birth rate in the U.S. fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to the country’s second slowest population growth rate since the government started counting in 1790, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in April 2021. Interestingly, Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN) seems to be making a recovery after a slow year.

Here are the March 2021 KPIs for OB-GYN:

  • Physician wRVUs per FTE increased 10.6% compared to the March 2020 quarter
  • Total Direct Expense per FTE increased 5% compared to the same quarter last year
  • Investment per Physician FTE fell 20.9% YOY

 

Recovery Efforts Require Robust Data

The data illustrates the continued financial impacts of the pandemic on physician practices. Moving forward, physician practices and the health systems that operate them need reliable data to track KPIs in real time and effectively guide recovery efforts.

Syntellis’ Axiom™ Comparative Analytics solution enables healthcare leaders to leverage data to monitor performance across the physician enterprise and identify opportunities for improvement to support informed decision-making.

March 2021 Physician Practice KPIs from Syntellis' Axiom Comparative Analytics

Axiom Comparative Analytics offers access to real-time data drawn from more than 125,000 physicians from over 10,000 practices and 139 specialty categories. Healthcare finance leaders can break out the data by individual physician, non-provider staff, job code, pay type, and account levels. The data can be customized into specific peer groups — by specialty performance, regional comparisons, urban versus rural, etc. — for unparalleled comparisons to drive operational decisions and performance improvement initiatives.

*Data is presented on a rolling 3-month basis. March 2021 and Q1 2021 both refer to the January-March 2021 quarter. Q4 2020 refers to the October-December 2020 quarter

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