Ex­pand­ing the pool

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Letters -

The story “Pri­mary Dis­pute” (April 5, p. 28) hits on the un­de­ni­able re­al­ity that health­care re­form will bring an in­flux of pa­tients into our health­care sys­tem and that en­abling ac­cess to health­care pro­fes­sion­als who are not doc­tors of medicine or os­teopa­thy will be crit­i­cal to meet­ing grow­ing de­mand.

Us­ing well-ed­u­cated and skilled health­care pro­fes­sion­als to de­liver this care ought not to be con­tro­ver­sial in the least. Re­search has con­sis­tently demon­strated that “ex­ten­der” health­care pro­fes­sion­als safely de­liver high qual­ity care. While physi­cians paint a scary pic­ture that providers will “get in over their heads,” the truth is that the rhetoric doesn’t hold up against the re­search. The scope of prac­tice of all providers is clearly de­fined within the re­quired skills and train­ing of each health­care pro­fes­sional, and if is­sues de­velop that are out­side the provider’s ex­per­tise, then pa­tients are re­ferred. Pa­tients are not be­ing cared for on a de­serted is­land, iso­lated from physi­cians. In­stead, they should have ac­cess to the health­care pro­fes­sional that suits their health and well­ness needs.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the idea that an MD is a pre­req­ui­site to pro­vid­ing care to pa­tients is out of touch. The key ques­tion is whether the right provider with the right skills is car­ing for the right health con­cerns. If we want to be suc­cess­ful in im­prov­ing our health­care sys­tem, we must do a bet­ter job of us­ing non-MD/DO health­care pro­fes­sion­als who can lower costs and main­tain (and even im­prove) qual­ity for pa­tients.

We were en­cour­aged to see some physi­cian groups ac­knowl­edg­ing the im­por­tance of health­care pro­fes­sions part­ner­ing with one an­other, not fight­ing for “turf,” so that we can meet the grow­ing needs of pa­tients. Un­for­tu­nately, the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s ef­forts to limit the prac­tice scopes of non-- MD/DO pro­fes­sion­als run counter to ev­ery­thing pa­tients need right now – qual­ity, ac­cess and af­ford­abil­ity.

Karen E. Howard, Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Natur­o­pathic Physi­cians Mau­reen Shek­le­ton, Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Nurse Anes­thetists On be­half of the Coali­tion for Pa­tients’ Rights

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