Advanced Practice Providers are filling the gap in care

Med3K medical practice management services

The increasing demand for healthcare services on all levels is placing great strain on healthcare systems throughout the U.S.This demand combined with a shortage of physicians results in increased use of advanced practice providers to improve care accessibility and to close the gap between the demand for services and the availability of physicians to provide them.

According to Yale University, 55 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of primary care providers. And according to projections by the Association of American Medical Colleges, that statistic could get worse. With the medical demands of an aging population, the country could face a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors by 2030, AAMC said.

In response, the population of newly trained advanced practice providers is on the rise.

Advanced practice providers (APPs) are a group of medical professionals that include physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses (commonly referred to as nurse practitioners), who have undergone specialized education, training, certification and licensure that allows them to perform certain procedures and prescribe some medications.

Continuing trend

According to an article on Reuters, the number of newly trained nurse practitioners has nearly doubled, from 120,000 in 2007 to 234,000 in 2017. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of physician assistants in the healthcare workforce will grow 30.4% between 2014 and 2024.

One reason for the increase, according to an article by Forbes, is that since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there has been an increase in the number of people who now have health coverage. At the same time, the U.S. healthcare system is facing a shortage of physicians and pressure to reduce costs.

The Forbes article says that even state governments are recognizing the importance of APPs. There are 21 states that now offer nurse practitioners the ability to attain full-practice authority, which drastically helps to alleviate the high demand for medical providers in rural parts of the country.

Part of the team

It is highly likely that you have already incorporated APPs into your healthcare team. To optimize your investment in these critical members of your team, the Studer Group provides the following guidelines:

  • Words matter: Do not use negative terms like “mid-level provider,” “physician extender,” or “non-physician provider” to describe your APP team members. Patients pay attention to your words and might not value APPs’ opinions if you use negative words to describe them.
  • Explain terminology: Most patients do not understand terms like PP, CRNA, Nurse Practitioner and PA. Be sure to explain to patients that APP team members are highly trained and more than competent to provide services.
  • Promote the team: Make sure that your entire office understands each person’s valuable role on the team and can communicate that value to patients. When patients feel the office has a “deep bench” caring for them, they will have greater confidence in your team.
  • Prepare patients: Make sure that patients always know when they will be seeing an APP instead of a physician. If you plan to schedule a patient with an APP be sure to also explain the APP’s training and competency so patients feel confident going into their appointment.

“APPs are invaluable members of the healthcare delivery team in medical practices, retail clinics, hospitals and surgery centers across the country. Using keywords to manage up and promote the experience and skills of APPs is critical to maximizing their benefit in your practice,” according to the Studer article. “If you truly believe in them as valuable and valued members of your healthcare team, they will be appreciated and respected by both patients and staff alike. This will greatly enhance the quality, consistency and the patient’s perception of the care they receive–a very worthwhile investment.”