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Medicine and Public Policy |

The Cost of Outpatient Physicians' Services at a Veterans Administration Hospital

PHILIP C. REILLY Jr, M.D., M.P.H.; and MARGARET CONNORTON REILLY, M.A., M.P.H.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Philip C. Reilly, Jr., M.D.; Milford-Whitinsville Regional Hospital; Whitinsville, MA 01588.


Whitinsville, Massachusetts


© 1980 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1980;93(1_Part_1):128-132. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-93-1-128
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The cost of an average outpatient visit to a physician at a Veterans Administration hospital in 1976 was estimated from hospital records to have been $80.35 ($104.46 in 1979 dollars). When productivity was used to measure relative cost, cost per visit ranged from a low of $32.66 (1979: $42. 46) for hypertension clinic to a high of $243.48 (1979: $316. 52) for hematology clinic. The average patient was seen 12.6 times annually at a cost of $1012 (1979: $1315). The major cost category for a physician visit was salaries, with nonphysician salaries costing twice as much as physician salaries. The cost of medical equipment was minimal. The findings suggest that the outpatient bookkeeping system was inadequate for cost accounting, the cost per visit was expensive, there were an excessive number of visits, and problems in the institutional delivery system of ambulatory care lowered productivity of physicians.

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