Independent nurse practitioners (NPs) are growing in popularity, especially for patients who want more control over their healthcare. More students are taking a caregiver course to help them along this path. This growth is attributed to an increased focus on preventative care, greater demand for healthcare services from underserved communities and patient preference for more personalized care.
With independent nurse practitioners providing basic medical services such as diagnosis, treatment of chronic illnesses and acute conditions, vaccinations, and physical exams – often at a reduced cost – it is not surprising that demand is continually growing. NPs are seen as a valuable alternative and a solution for underserved populations. As access to healthcare continues to be a major issue in the United States, these practitioners play a vital role in providing high-quality care to those who are lacking access.
Why See an NP?
Leveraging their schooling and clinical experience, nurse practitioners can provide many of the same services available in other care settings. These services vary based on their specialty, and provide patients with experienced, personable alternatives when seeking a healthcare provider. Their ability to independently practice often helps to increase access to care and speed up the process of getting appropriate care.
In addition, their lower overhead costs mean that they do not always have to charge extra for services as larger institutions do. As a result, increasing numbers of patients are discovering the advantages of working with independent nurse practitioners for their health service needs.
A study published in PubMed® backs that assertion, concluding that, “Patients reassigned to NPs experienced similar outcomes and incurred less utilization at comparable cost relative to MD patients. NPs may offer a cost-effective approach to addressing anticipated shortages of primary care physicians.”
Providing Personalized, Whole-Person Care
Patients who visit an independent nurse practitioner not only get personalized care, but they also benefit from NPs’ holistic approach, which emphasizes addressing a patients’ physical, mental, community, and social needs. An independent nurse practitioner can offer customized assessments and treatments that are tailored to the patient’s needs. This allows for more fitting advice on issues such as diet, exercise, and medication dosage.
Additionally, nurse practitioners emphasize preventive care, focusing on finding a problem before it has time to progress into something more serious such as a chronic illness or major injury. Through this approach, patients are empowered to take proactive measures that help them lead a healthier lifestyle.
Such emphasis on the whole patient has been linked to improved patient satisfaction. Another study published in PubMed found that:
- 98% reported satisfaction with an NP providing care
- 95% felt that the NP was able to effectively deal with illness
- 94% reported an increased chance or willingness to see an NP at a future visit
Closing Healthcare Gaps for Patients
NPs are closing the gaps in healthcare, especially for underserved populations who experience inequity in accessing care. With growing disparities between populations and their access to medical care, NPs provide essential, accessible high-quality healthcare.
“I founded C3 Cares on the belief that everyone deserves access to convenient, quality healthcare,” shared Founder and CEO of C3 Cares Erin Athey, DNP, FNP-BC, RN.
She added, “Our place-based clinical services are embedded in public housing in Washington, D.C. in order to improve healthcare access, education, and trust in the community.”
In addition to providing a wide range of medical services, NPs bring a unique set of knowledge and expertise around cultural proficiency and community advocacy. This fundamental understanding informs their strategies to address the social determinants of health that affect underserved populations.
Nurses have historically led the charge for adopting new technology, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs). So, it is not surprising that telehealth technology has been successful for many NPs in helping serve patients who may otherwise have access to care, especially chronically and acutely ill patients. While the future of telehealth is unclear, telehealth currently remains a popular and viable alternative for many patient visits – and is an important component to any successful practice.
Providers who utilize telehealth in their practice have cited benefits like:
- Increased patient volumes
- Reduced no-show rates
- Enhanced flexibility in scheduling
- Improved continuity of care
- Simplified management of chronic conditions
NP Trends to Watch For
The role of nurse practitioner ranked first on U.S. News & World Report’s “2023 Best Health Care Jobs” and second on its “100 Best Jobs of 2023.” These rankings are based on factors such as demand, salary, opportunities for growth, and more. It is easy to see why – they offer more flexible and personalized care options than many traditional settings.
As gaps-in-care continue to increase due to the shortage of primary care providers, watch for states to reduce or remove barriers for nurse practitioners to have full practice authority. With a combination of experience, expertise, and autonomy, NPs provide a unique approach to healthcare that appeals to many patients. In addition, studies show that working with an NP can lead to better health outcomes.
This trend is expected to continue as people increasingly discover the benefits of seeing an independent NP for their healthcare needs. This demand for alternative providers is just one way healthcare is evolving and improving access to care for patients.
NPs looking to capitalize on this trend are encouraged to start today, as the journey to independence may take longer than expected. First steps in entrepreneurship like identifying your unique value proposition, acquiring a Tax IT Number and Group NPI, and developing a business plan are great ways to begin building momentum towards opening your practice.
Brandy Lawson is a Senior Project Manager for NP Advantage, a solution suite developed to support the launch and growth of nurse practitioner independent practices. Created by the tenured healthcare consultants at Medical Advantage, NP Advantage provides the tools, technology, and training that are essential to establishing a thriving practice that is poised for success in an increasingly competitive healthcare landscape. For more information visit the NP Advantage website https://www.npadvantage.com/, or contact Brandy Lawson directly at [email protected].