Physician-PA Teams are Key to Value and SuccessSeptember 4th, 2013 1 Min read Blog
John H. Stuemky, MD, FAAP, recently published a very interesting piece about the importance of physician-physician assistant (PA) teams. In the article, Stuemky cites a 2011 study commissioned by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The study showed that 84 percent of physicians working with certified PAs said that the physician-PA partnership creates the opportunity for the physician to spend more time with patients who have critical or complex issues. The physician-PA team also improves workflow within the practice. More than 70 percent of those physicians indicated that the physician-PA partnership allows the physician to see more patients, improves the physician’s work-life balance, and decreases waiting time for patients. This partnership was described as a “great value” for the practice. Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners in an Age of Accountable Care In the United States, about 66 million people live in rural areas or urban neighborhoods with too few primary care doctors or a shortage of primary care in clinics. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans lacks access to essential primary care and could develop more serious health problems as a result. Fewer than 25 percent of new doctors in the United States go into primary care, and only about 5 percent open offices in rural areas. While estimates vary, changes resulting from healthcare reform will certainly add more patients into an already complicated system. In an era of accountable care, patients will inevitably ask two questions: “Who can I call?” and “Where can I go?” PAs and nurse practitioners (NP) will play in important role in providing the answers. Building stronger physician-PA relationships is key in managing a growing number of patients (especially in rural communities) and decreasing emergency department utilization and hospital readmission rates.