The Magic Ingredient To Increase Access To CareRead Time: 4 minutes
More and more, access to healthcare is becoming a challenge. This is especially true in rural areas. For millions of Americans living in small communities, there are not many doctors to choose from. There could be a magic ingredient to increasing access to care. Better leverage of advanced practice providers (APPs) can cover crucial gaps in healthcare, including coverage in the emergency department (ED).
What is an APP?
The term APP doesn’t just apply to something to download on a smartphone. Advanced practice providers are medical professionals who hold a master’s degree or higher. APPs can perform many of the same tasks that physicians can, such as conducting physical exams, ordering lab work or x-rays, writing prescriptions, and delivering babies. These providers include physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs).
The impact on patient experience
Many institutions see an increase in patient satisfaction when patients see APPs. Part of this is that these providers can spend a little more time with patients. Because these providers often come from nursing or patient care backgrounds, APPs tend to develop comfortable relationships with patients, making others feel at ease. This increase in patient satisfaction has a direct impact on quality scores and, thus, reimbursement.
What about the ED?
One of the biggest challenges in rural healthcare is the increased strain on physicians. Because community hospitals are working with a leaner staff, physicians often have to play multiple roles. For example, primary doctors who have spent a full day in the outpatient setting are asked to round on patients in the ED after hours. By leveraging APPs, these physicians may not need to go to the ED as often. Alternatively, advanced practice providers can see patients in the primary care setting during the day, giving physicians much-needed breaks.
Leveraging telehealth resources
Rural hospitals need to find ways to improve efficiency in the ED. Commonly, people in rural communities use the ED as the primary access to healthcare. This can lead to long wait times and frustrated patients. Incorporating a telehealth assessment into the initial triage process can reduce this wait time and reduce inappropriate admissions. When hospitals leverage a combination of telehealth resources and advanced practice providers, the results can be exponential.
Coverage in multiple specialties
Small hospitals commonly struggle to offer a variety of specialty services. Higher overhead costs and recruitment challenges mean that community hospitals often don’t have as many specialty areas as larger, urban institutions. Advanced practice providers can fill crucial gaps in this area, as well. For example, certified nurse midwives can deliver babies and certified registered nurse anesthetists can administer anesthesia, two specialty services that are crucial to the success of a hospital.
Offsetting a physician shortage
Advanced practice providers can perform many of the same functions as physicians. Because of this, these healthcare providers cover crucial gaps in coverage. Consider hiring APPs for the ED today.