With the trials and tribulations of the economy and the healthcare system in the United States constantly in the headlines, it's no surprise that health organizations are increasingly looking for cost-effective ways to expand medical practice. An article recently published on Software Advice's The Profitable Practice blog makes a pretty convincing case for cost savings surrounding the hiring of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) over physicians. On top of providing significant cost savings, the article suggests that NPs and PAs can fill the physician gap while offering comparable patient care and positive patient experiences.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants offer significant savings over physicians because, among other things, NPs and PAs earn lower salaries, charge less for office visits and require lower insurance costs. The median salary for a physician is more than twice that of a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant. Additionally, it is estimated that the cost of a physician visit is, on average, 20 to 35 percent higher than the cost of an NP visit. NPs also have lower malpractice rates and costs, while PAs offer a savings of 66 percent over physicians when it comes to liability risk costs.
According to The Profitable Practice blog article, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are in a pivotal position right now as the healthcare industry deals with a significant physician shortage that is expected to rise over the next several years. Hospitals and clinics are looking to mid-level practitioners like NPs and PAs to fill the gap in primary care—as evidenced by an 8-percent growth in mid-level practitioner staffing requests from 2010 to 2012. NPs and PAs are a good option because, despite their lower salaries, they can perform approximately 80 to 85 percent of the tasks that primary care physicians perform. Additionally, several studies have shown that patient satisfaction levels with NPs and PAs are comparable with or superior to patient satisfaction levels with physicians.
Primary care facilities looking to expand their practices will likely continue to look toward nurse practitioners and physician assistants as the demand for primary care increases under the Affordable Care Act. According to Software Advice's article, "To be successful, practices must enable all healthcare providers to function at the top of their license in order to provide patients with the best possible treatment." To read more about the expanding roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, read the full article here.
Additionally, The College Network (TCN) can get you started on the path toward becoming a nurse practitioner with our Master of Science in Nursing program, available through our partnership with Regis University. Contact us today for more information. Also, check out this article on the TCN blog to read more about the career of nurse practitioner.