We are experiencing a primary care crisis and Nurse Practitioners are the solution. This article is a must read, published by the American Enterprise Institute. Here are a few highlights and important findings from the report.
“For the past few decades, the United States has not produced enough primary care physicians. Moreover, too few physicians practice in rural and medically underserved areas, and the number of people lacking adequate access to primary care has increased. Meanwhile, studies have piled up pointing to the high quality of care that nurse practitioners (NPs) provide, and increasing numbers of policy-influencing bodies have recommended expanding the use of NPs in primary care. Yet, barriers to the expanded use of NPs persist, and, consequently, tens of millions of Americans lack adequate access to primary care services. This report describes and integrates new evidence from a research program focused on the primary care workforce, NPs’ role in primary care, and the potential for NPs to help solve the problem of Americans’ access to quality primary care.”
- It is unrealistic to rely on the physician workforce alone to provide the primary care Americans need.
- The NP workforce has increased dramatically and is projected to continue growing while the physician workforce will grow minimally.
- Primary care nurse practitioners (PCNPs) are more likely to practice in rural areas, where the need for primary care is greatest.
- People living in states with laws that reduce or restrict NPs’ scope-of- practice had significantly less access to PCNPs. This finding indicates that such state regulations have played a role in impeding access to primary care.
- NPs are significantly more likely than primary care physicians to care for vulnerable populations.
- The cost of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries by NPs was significantly lower than primary care provided by physicians.
- Beneficiaries who received their primary care from NPs consistently received significantly higher-quality care than physicians’ patients in several respects. While beneficiaries treated by physicians received slightly better services in a few realms, the differences were marginal validated by studies over the past four decades.
- One-third of primary care physicians believe increasing the number of NPs would impair the safety and effectiveness of care. This could indicate that physicians are not aware of the findings of research.
- State-level NP scope-of-practice restrictions do not help protect the public from sub- par health care.
“The evidence leads to three recommendations that can help overcome the growing challenges facing the delivery of primary care in the US. First, private policymakers such as hospital boards and credentialing bodies should allow NPs to practice to the fullest extent of their training and ability. Second, physicians must understand that NPs provide quality health care to those in need. NPs and physicians should work together to build relationships that allow for their respective roles and practices to evolve, respecting each other’s strengths and ultimately leading to a workforce that is more responsive to communities’ health needs. Third, public policymakers should remove restrictions on NPs that limit their scope-of-practice.”
Click here for the link to the full report. Nurse practitioners: A solution to America’s primary care crisis