Posts Tagged ‘preventive focused’

Healthcare’s Best-Kept Secret: Nurse Practitioners

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

If healthcare reform is to successfully overcome the realities of Washington politics, there is one problem in covering the millions of Americans who lack insurance coverage – the physician shortage.  Currently, there is a 30 percent shortage of primary-care physicians, and with less than 10 percent of 2008 medical school graduates choosing that career track.  When Massachusetts enacted mandates for universal health insurance in 2006, the state’s primary-care physicians48019286 were overwhelmed.  A similar scenario could occur on a national scale.

Nurse practitioners — who have advanced nursing degrees, are licensed by the state and often are allowed to prescribe medications — may fill that void because they can treat and diagnose patients at less cost than physicians.  Medicare reimburses nurse practitioners at 80 percent of what they pay doctors for similar services.

Nurse practitioners are vital to healthcare reform because they focus on patient-centered care and preventive medicine.  The House of Representatives has listed nurse practitioners as primary-care providers on their healthcare reform legislation bill.  The profession lobbied intensely to include this legislative language so they can play an important role in a revamped health system.

“We seem to be healthcare’s best-kept secret,” said Jan Powers, health policy director for the Academy of Nurse Practitioners.  Although nurse practitioners typically have less medical education than physicians, they are well trained in skills such as bedside manner and counseling.  “In the United States, we are so physician-centric in our health system.  But it should be about wellness and prevention, not about procedures and disease management,” said Rebecca Patton, president of the American Nursing Association.

Walk-In Clinic A Good Fit With the Healthcare Village

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Urgent care centers (Illinois law mandates that they be called immediate or convenient care centers) are gaining ground nationwide as an alternative for families with minor medical emergencies that require quick treatment.  Although the walk-in clinic concept has been around for more than 20 years, the trend is picking up steam in an increasingly cost-conscious healthcare environment.  emergency_roomApproximately 8,000 such facilities currently are open for business in the United States.

A 2008 survey by the Urgent Care Association of America found that most centers are owned by physicians, and approximately 15 percent are hospital affiliated.  More than 55 percent are located in suburbs, where well-off patients with private insurance are unwilling to spend hours waiting in an emergency room.  The survey found that of an average of five employees, 1.7 are physicians; 0.4 are nurse practitioners; 0.7 are registered nurses; and 2.3 are clinical staff or medical assistants.  Sixty percent of patients are seen by a physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant in just 30 minutes.

Alter+Care sees immediate care centers as a great fit with Alter+Care’s Healthcare Village concept (our concept of a wellness/preventive-focused outpatient campus, see www.healthcarevillage.net, because the village becomes a healthcare destination while generating visibility and visits for all services located in the village such as diagnostics/imaging, specialty clinics, physician practices, retail healthcare, laboratory and the wellness center.  For patients, the centers provide easy access and reasonably priced care because they typically charge far less than an emergency room visit.  Insurers who want to control costs are encouraging people to use urgent care facilities as an alternative, especially during after hours and on weekends.