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Nurses, PAs Will Play Bigger Role in U.S. Health Care: Survey

Healthcare administrators will be increasingly reliant on allied health professionals—such as nurses and physician assistants—in the future, according to the results of a new survey by the national law firm, Hooper, Lundy & Bookman, P.C., released in February 2019 at the first annual National Symposium on Health Law and Policy

The survey polled 222 executives from chief executive officers to managers from health care organizations across the U.S., such as hospitals, individual physicians, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, mental health service providers, pharmaceutical wholesalers, ambulatory surgery centers and local government-based health care systems.

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Respondents answered 12 questions pertaining to health care reform, reducing cost, prescription drug pricing, opioid use, growth opportunities, telemedicine, physician alignment, value-based care and health care’s increasing reliance on electronic systems. 

To help you prepare for the road ahead, here’s an overview of survey results, including key highlights and predictions.

  • Prescription drug pricing will be a primary focus. Efforts to control prescription drug pricing will significantly impact the market over the next two years, said 79 percent of participants. They predicted that prescription drug pricing will be a primary focus at both federal and state levels for the remainder of President Trump’s first term. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents indicated that prescription drug transparency at the state level is a top area for health care reform under the current administration. 
  • How will chronic pain be managed? With increasing regulatory oversight of opioids, such as the passage of H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, respondents were most concerned with how to manage patients with chronic pain, compared with other opioid issues. Despite the tremendous societal problem opioids have become in recent years, health care providers, who were a large percentage of survey respondents, said they still rely heavily on opioids to help patients manage pain. 
  • A core issue: Medicaid expansion at the state level. Respondents expect major changes in federal health care reform by the end of the decade. Most respondents predicted that health care reform will most likely come in the form of value-based payment models and Medicaid expansion at the state level. 
  • Universal health care coverage is necessary to reduce health care costs. More than 40 percent of respondents indicated that universal insurance coverage was the most necessary among possible avenues for cutting health care costs. Over the next two years, respondents predicted that universal health care coverage will translate to new and more innovative managed care plans and coverage options.
  • Telemedicine isn’t likely to grow rapidly. Respondents indicated that regulatory barriers, restrictions from health care insurers, HIPAA concerns, certification requirements and complex payment models will continue to impede the growth of telemedicine. Instead, respondents predict that the U.S. health care system will increasing rely on allied health professionals, such as nurses and physician assistants, and the growth of other “high touch” opportunities, including urgent care centers, to provide patients with hands-on medical care and meet health care demand.

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These are just some of the sweeping changes predicted to impact the U.S. health care system as it continues to respond to medical innovations, market forces, government regulations and restrictions from insurance providers. Overall, despite the current climate of political paralysis, the survey’s results indicate a healthy sense of optimism for health care change. 

Last updated on 9/22/19.

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