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May 1996

Practice Revenue and Cost Distribution for Ophthalmology, 1988 to 1993

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Chicago (Ill). Dr Khadem is currently a fellow in vitreoretinal surgery, Retina Specialists of Boston, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(5):600-603. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100130592017

As ophthalmologists need to better manage their practices, information regarding distribution of practice costs becomes more relevant. In this study, we compare revenues and costs from published sources to determine changes over time and across surveys. We also evaluate the reliability and validity of these statistics. Data were obtained from the Health Care Financing Administration (for 1988), the American Medical Association (for 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1993), and the Medical Group Management Association (for 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1993) and were compared across years and surveys. We found large differences among the surveys in both dollar amounts and percentages of total revenue for some of the reported cost categories. Analysis of the data over time showed less of a decline in physician earnings than expected, although there were large increases in the category "other costs." We found considerable divergence among the statistical results. Ophthalmologists, public policymakers, and managed care organizations must exercise great caution in interpreting such data and in applying their findings to individual ophthalmic practices and practitioners.