Despite the ravages of the Great Recession, many single-specialty medical practices actually saw revenue rise during 2009, according to the Medical Group Management Association.
The MGMA's cost survey for single-specialty practices concluded that several specialties fared relatively well. Revenue per full-time physician for anesthesiology practices was up 7 percent; family practices, 2.5 percent; and orthopedic surgical practices, 1.6 percent. However, revenue dropped significantly for more arcane (and better-compensated) specialties such as urology, which was down 10.8 percent; and cardiology, down 8.8 percent.
Those improved numbers came at a price: the jobs of non-physician personnel. Support staff costs among practices with seven to 12 physicians dropped nearly 10 percent, while those with 13 or more physicians dropped 8.5 percent.
"With the increased financial pressure on practices, many chose to initiate hiring and salary freezes," said Ken Hertz, a principal with MGMA Health Care Consulting Group. "Additionally, some practices looked to layoffs and increased use of part-time staff due in part to reduced patient volume," he said.
However, Hertz noted that fewer practices will seek layoffs in the coming months, although they will still rely on part-time positions and job-sharing.
Meanwhile, costs for professional liability insurance decreased among cardiologists, but soared 17 percent among family practices.