As healthcare marketers, many of us have spent our careers either focused on identifying and targeting healthcare professionals (HCPs) or patients/consumers through direct-to-consumer (DTC) promotion. Those focused on the HCP universe have historically targeted the physician and, with some exception, the office staff including reimbursement specialists and general administrators.With access to physicians continuing to shrink, and pressure mounting for physicians themselves (and their associated clinics) to reduce costs and increase efficiency, it is time to really expand our focus to include one of the fastest-growing groups of professionals in the clinical space, namely nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants (NP/PAs).
In 2012 there were roughly 127,000 registered NP/PAs in the US, of which almost half were practicing in primary care settings. While the numbers are significant, it is important to understand that NP/PAs typically can deal with 80-90% of the primary care issues that a physician can address, and research had indicated that the patient-reported outcomes are aligned with those from patients served by physicians. While the environment for NP/PAs across the US is not necessarily open to full practice, including writing prescriptions, there are 20 states that allow full practice authority, with the remainder requiring some level of collaboration or supervision from physicians.
Given the growing demand for healthcare, declining availability of physicians, and the capability of trained NP/PAs, look for legislation and full practice authority to continue to expand. Furthermore, as we see their role in ACOs, patient center models of care, and rural practices continue to expand, the time has never been better to include them in call plans and, more importantly, integrated communication campaigns that leverage non-personal promotion.
Learn more in a recent article titled “Tapping Nurse Practitioners to Meet Rising Demand for Primary Care.”