Many physician practices around the country are moving toward team-based care in response to continuously shrinking numbers of primary care physicians.
The combination of chronic conditions and increasing numbers of insured patients seeking care has put a strain on the abilities of primary care physicians to see every patient in their practice. Team-based care allows nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and other qualified medical professionals working under the physician to see patients, prescribe and evaluate medications, and provide ongoing care.
Team members may see patients for initial consultations and defer to the physician for follow-up, or the physician may assign a team member to provide routine care to patients who visit the office regularly. Many offices, such as the practice referenced in the article linked above, have daily meetings to determine which practitioners will see which patients.
So far, studies of team-based care show that patients under a team have better health outcomes for a variety of conditions and enjoy lower costs based on different fee structures that are available. However, not all physicians are in favor of team-based care and may oppose relinquishing control over their patients. In addition, it can be difficult to convince patients of the benefits of team-based care and may require the physician to reassure the patient that they are in many capable hands.
Despite some reservations, Don Goldmann of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in Massachusetts predicts that team-based care will become the standard of healthcare within the next 10 years.
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