As the landscape of healthcare and medicine widens, there will be ongoing changes over the next several years. Workloads for medical professionals have been increasing as more people are being covered by insurance, and there will be more care provided by physicians assistants and nurse practitioners.
A 2004 Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Cost Survey Report revealed that the number of full-time equivalents of Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and other people involved in a healthcare team increased in many specialty groups. Those numbers have increased even more in recent years due to the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), and are projected to keep going up through 2020 because of aging and population growth.
This is great news for people who aspire to become healthcare professionals because they will be in high demand, but on the other side of that there has been concern for patient safety and the quality of care offered by non-physician providers. Stakeholders such as local and national government, patient care delivery organizations, health care provider education programs, the health insurance industry, and the general public face some level of anxiousness and uncertainty.
There are nurses who are looking to end laws that mandate doctor supervision, however, there are already nurse practitioners in many states who are working without primary care doctors.
To alleviate the increased risks of medical malpractice, there are many organizations that have stepped up in recent years, aggressively promoting the importance of patient safety and quality care. There’s the World Alliance for Patient Safety, which was launched in October 2004 by the World Health Organization. The National Patient Safety Foundation came about in 1997 with a vision “to create a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm.” Each of these organizations have various programs and workshops to educate and enhance the culture of patient safety.
NPs and PAs are perceived now as being more than just health care providers. PAs are essentially trained based on the same model as doctors while NPs have a more comprehensive approach with the focus on health promotion.
Despite the education difference of NPs and PAs versus doctors, experience and patient rapport play a role in how patients feel about the level of care they receive. As long as everyone is doing their best, there is constant communication between everyone providing care, and the patient feels like their needs are being met, that’s all that matters when all is said and done.