Medical practices that employ nurse practitioners and physician assistants typically perform better financially than those that do not, according to an analysis published by the Medical Group Management Association in March.
Data collected by the association show that the use of non-physician providers in every specialty group, including cardiology, family medicine and orthopedic surgery, has increased in the last 15 years, and that physician compensation is higher for practices with NPs and physician assistants.
Where NPPs (non-physician providers) are the only practitioners, facilities see significantly lower operating and staff costs, although revenue also drops, the report states, perhaps because non-physician providers see less complicated patients who require fewer procedures and ancillary care than those seen by physicians.
Nurse practitioners and physicians assistants may help bring in revenue because they allow practices to accept more patients.
They can provide 80% or more of services in primary care practices with patient satisfaction equal to or better than a physician, and at lower cost, said David Gans, MSHA, FACMPE, senior fellow, at MGMA Industry Affairs. NPPs allow practices to care for more patients and free physicians to perform work that only physicians can do, the report states.
Because NPPs spend more time with patients than physicians for routine visits, they can increase the depth of the provider-patient relationship and enhance patient satisfaction.
A physician shortage, healthcare reform driven by the Affordable Care Act, and an aging population will drive demand for non-physician providers in coming years, the report predicts.