Physician practices facing an influx of patients who have recently become insured under the Affordable Care Act may be considering an addition to their staff. A physician assistant can be a smart choice for a practice that needs more medical staff but may not want, for whatever reason, to hire a new physician. News source Keloland reports the demand for physician assistants is growing, and a recent article in Physicians Practice detailed the role and training of physician assistants, and how they may be an asset to a practice's operations and revenue cycle management.

Physician assistants are uniquely qualified
Physician assistants choose their career path with intention, according to the article, rather than due to any deficiency in their medical school chances. Accredited physician assistant programs reject more than 70 percent of applicants, the article states, so the quality of a physician assistant's education or credentials is not an issue, though many believe otherwise.  

Physician assistants receive training in, among other things, taking a patient's history, performing physical exams and ordering specific diagnostic tests. According to Physicians Practice, the typical curriculum for physician assistant programs includes approximately 54 weeks of classroom education and 52 weeks of clinical experiences in family, internal, emergency, pediatric and women's medicine, as well as general surgery and behavioral health. As such, the typical physician assistant is prepared for the demands of most medical practices, within his or her scope of legal practice.

Physician assistants can only practice under supervision
Unlike nurse practitioners, who are allowed to practice privately without the supervision of another medical professional in many states, physician assistants must always be supervised by doctors. This means a physician assistant will not leave a medical practice to start his or her own, which can be a recruitment concern when hiring physicians. Furthermore, depending on state laws, physician assistants can function without one-on-one supervision, which means physicians may not see a drastic increase in their workload should they hire a physician assistant to take care of certain tasks around the practice. It's also easy for physicians and their assistants to collaborate through the use of technology like electronic health records (EHRs), which can make a collaboration's workload much more flexible than it could otherwise be.

How can physician assistants help?
Having physician assistants at a practice to help manage those aspects of patient care state legislation allows them to perform can save a lot of time for physicians. It can also allow a practice to accept a higher volume of patients, in turn bolstering its revenue cycle management. Providing care to patients that includes longer appointment times or quicker waits to get an appointment in the first place is to everyone's benefit. It can even make incentive payments from insurers transitioning to pay-for-performance models more likely.