GRU Health needs growth, officials said



The health system of Georgia Regents University is making money, but not meeting budget, and that needs to change, officials said.

At a meeting Thursday of Georgia Regents Health System, figures for its first quarter show it is doing better than last year but not as well as planned, said Chief Business Officer Anthony E. Wagner.

For instance, the margin was $2.6 million for the quarter, compared to less than $850,000 last year, but was less than half of the $6.5 million budgeted. Much of that is due to a lack of volume with admissions off 6.3 percent from budget.

However, the case mix of patients that did show up was more favorable, Wagner said.

“That should help us to get back on plan as we move forward,” he said.

As cuts to the university have mounted, the health system support has filled in the gap and it now provides about a third of the university’s revenues, said GRU President Ricardo Azziz, who also chairs the health system’s boards.

If revenues are to improve, it will likely not come from cutting because the health system’s $6,641 cost per case is already seventh among academic health centers, he said.

“We have to grow,” Azziz said. “We have to grow our way out of this. There is no way we are going to become competitive simply by cutting costs more and more because we’re already the seventh-lowest cost provider.”

He asked the health system’s management to come up with “a fairly detailed growth plan” to be presented to the board at its next meeting in January.

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