Need more hours in a day? You’re not alone.
A physician with a panel of 2,500 patients could spend nearly 22 hours per day providing the recommended acute, chronic, and preventive care as well as conducting effective care management and outreach, according to research findings in American Journal of Public Health and Preventing Chronic Disease.
And that’s not taking into account the national shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs), the rise in non-direct patient care, and clerical workload or the more than half of physicians who reported feelings of burnout in 2017, up from 40 percent in 2013.
“With these new demands, the ability for physicians to see patients has decreased,” says Joseph Behn, MD, family medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska, Wis. “The amount of time physicians actually spend doing what they are trained to do—such as interacting with patients, examining them, and formulating diagnoses and treatment plans—has markedly declined. By delegating tasks, PCPs can alleviate this aspect of the work burden and allow physicians to reacquire the ability to practice again.”
Physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), pharmacists, and other support providers are valuable members of care teams at primary care physician (PCP) practices. These non-physician providers can make practices more efficient and effective, allowing all team members to work at the top of their licensure.
Building a care team
“Treating patients as a team helps to meet their diverse needs, including physical, mental, social, and spiritual,” says Cheristi Cognetta-Rieke, DNP, a nurse administrator at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wis. “A team-based approach allows a care team to collectively manage larger, more complex panels of patients and achieve wellness and health more effectively than any provider can do as an individual.”
By having several healthcare professionals coordinate a patient’s care, teams are more likely to identify all potential issues—which might otherwise fall outside of their individual scope of care—and improve outcomes.
A collaborative team of clinicians affords patients access to a team member they know faster than their PCP or when their PCP is not available, such as after patients are discharged from a hospital or care facility. “This allows for a timely response from a team member who is familiar with a patient’s condition,” says Arnold DoRosario, MD, primary care physician and chief population health officer at Northeast Medical Group/Yale New Haven Health in New Haven, Conn. “In turn, patients are comforted by personalized care.”