Every healthcare practitioner should work at the top of his or her license to be as productive as possible. Non-physician providers (NPPs) are essential to medical practices, shifting some of the clinical responsibilities from the physicians to other clinicians. NPPs include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, physician assistants, and physical therapists. These providers have completed years of academic training and possess a skill set along the clinical continuum between registered nurses and physicians.
Create a Blueprint for Non-Physician Providers
Before integrating NPPs into your practice, consider how your practice could utilize a clinician with this level of licensing. Practices should evaluate their current needs to see which NPPs can fulfill those needs. NPPs are most often incorporated into practices in the following ways:
- The NPP is the first patient contact, and the physicians are consultants. In this scenario, the NPP is an extension of the physician, prepping the patient for the physician’s evaluation and diagnosis.
- The NPP provides continuing care for Medicare patients according to the physician’s care plan.
- The NPP may primarily support their own patient load while still supporting and consulting with the physician. The NPP handles more routine cases independently while the physicians take on more complex cases. The NPPs may also treat same-day patients when the physician’s schedule is full.
Constructing New Models for Medical Practices
The patient care team approach is a new model for medical practice that is growing in popularity, especially in primary care. A physician with an NPP and several nurses form a smoothly functioning team that treats individual patients. While the future of primary care continues to evolve, some speculate that smaller groups of doctors will oversee larger groups of NPPs. In this model, NPPs are responsible for most patient encounters. Physicians would then primarily supervise NPPs, review performance data, perform diagnoses, and handle the most complicated cases.
Recruit and Retain Non-Physician Providers
To recruit and retain the best NPPs, practices should offer a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits, including a CME allowance, paid time off, licensure fees, malpractice premiums, and professional memberships. They should also consider implementing a productivity incentive plan, such as a percentage of net collections attributable to the NPP.
A Strong Foundation Starts with CRI
With careful planning and screening of candidates, adding a non-physician provider to the practice could be a strong, strategic move. CRI’s medical practice CPAs and consultants can help you improve practice productivity by developing a plan for NPPs. Additionally, we can analyze your payor contracts and fee schedules for reimbursement levels and help you create a patient care process that incorporates your NPPs.
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