A Fourth of U.S. Health Visits Now Delivered by Non-Physicians

A Fourth of U.S. Health Visits Now Delivered by Non-Physicians

Summary: A recent study published in the BMJ reveals that nurse practitioners and physician assistants are playing an increasingly vital role in the U.S. healthcare system, with a significant shift towards their involvement in healthcare delivery. From 2013 to 2019, the proportion of health care visits delivered by these non-physician providers increased from 14% to 25.6%, accounting for a quarter of all health care visits. This growth can be attributed to the supply and demand for healthcare services. With fewer physicians per capita than many other countries, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are bridging the gap, especially for patients in lower-income, rural, and disabled populations. The study highlights the importance of optimizing healthcare teams to provide effective care. While this change represents a significant shift, research shows that all three professions - physicians , nurse practitioners , and physician assistants - can effectively deliver care, with little difference in spending. However, the roles of these allied health professionals may be best suited for specific clinical conditions, such as primary care or the treatment of mental health conditions. The increasing role of nurse practitioners and physician assistants presents an opportunity to rethink healthcare delivery and build more effective care teams, ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.

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