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    Strategies for making PCP practices more efficient

    Your primary care practice team may not be as efficient as it could be, particularly for patients with complex, chronic health needs.


    Related: Boost your revenue in 2017 and beyond


    A  PwC Health Research Institute report that surveyed nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists, as well as American consumers, suggested that primary care physicians could optimize their business models by better understanding patients’ social and behavioral health as well as their medical needs. A few strategies can help primary care physicians to build teams that deal with the whole patient that lead to better outcomes and cost savings. 

    Develop inter-professional teams

    The push to diversify primary care teams is propelled by workforce trends: By 2020, the percentage of primary care doctors retiring will outnumber the percentage of new doctors, according to a paper of University of California, San Francisco researchers Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, and Laurie Bauer, RN, MSPH. Based on current demographic trends, primary care will increasingly be provided by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses, with physicians focusing on diagnostics and leading teams caring for patients with complex healthcare needs.

    Primary care practices can become more efficient by training “dream teams” of various professionals such as physician assistants and nurses to extend physician capacity.  “There are a lot of routine needs that don’t necessarily require a physician,” says Edward Salsberg, MPH, research instructor, George Washington School of Nursing. Salsberg says the needs of the chronically ill and elderly will continue to stress the healthcare system as a whole and go beyond what can be provided by physicians.


    Further reading: Can patient satisfaction and quality care coexist?


    “Bringing in an inter-professional team structure can allow physicians to practice at what they do best,” says Janis M. Orlowski, MD, MACP, chief health care officer, Association of American Medical Colleges (AMMC). Integrating professionals such as nutritionists, occupational therapists and social workers on the team can improve patients’ health and ability to function and can enable more efficient delivery of preventive care that helps keep patients healthy and out of the hospital.

    Next: Reducing administration time

    Wendy Wolfson
    Wendy Wolfson is a contributing author for Medical Economics.


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    • Anonymous
      Definitely not geared towards the solo practitioner or small group.
    • Anonymous
      I agree with the above comment. This is an ivory tower remedy to a serious problem those of us in solo practice may not survive
    • UBM User
      This type of practice design is biased against small solo family physicians. I have one employee. We both work all day long seeing and managing patients. I cannot afford to hire a NP or PA to "manage" my complex patients. The chances of a NP/PA even agreeing to join my office is low given that I cannot compete with the large hospital system down the street with health insurance, retirement, etc and better pay. On a side note, small practices were found to provide better care without all the extras, in a recent study. So adding extra "layers" of care does not always seem to be needed.

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