Consumers Seek Access to Full Range of Health Professionals

Deloitte Survey Indicates Patients Value Ability to Choose Care Team Members
By: Coalition for Patients’ Rights
 
Aug. 1, 2012 - PRLog -- WASHINGTON – Consumers are comfortable visiting a variety of healthcare professionals for treatment, regardless of what letters the provider has after his or her name.

A new survey released by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that consumers were confident in the ability of a broad range of professionals to provide quality care.  With primary care shortages worsening and an estimated 32 million people expected to gain insurance coverage through healthcare reform, experts say the full complement of healthcare professionals will be needed to make care accessible to consumers.

“This research shows consumers recognize that they can receive quality care from a variety of licensed and certified professionals,” said Gene McGill, a spokesperson for the Coalition for Patients’ RightsTM, a national coalition that represents more than three million licensed and certified healthcare professionals.  “What’s critical is that there are no regulatory or bureaucratic barriers to prevent patients from selecting the providers who can best meet their individual needs, regardless of whether that person is a nurse, psychologist, speech-language pathologist, physical therapist or other qualified health professional.”

Half of consumers believe they can obtain the same quality primary care services from a nurse practitioner or other professional as they can from a physician, according to Deloitte’s annual healthcare survey of thousands of consumers.  More than a quarter of consumers were interested in exploring retail clinics, which are often managed by nurse practitioners or other professionals, as an alternative if a physician was unavailable.  

The survey results showed many consumers want to choose the members of their care team.  Ten percent of consumers surveyed saw a specialist without being referred by their primary care provider.  More than a quarter of the survey respondents preferred professionals who offered natural therapies or treatment that includes alternative approaches.

But consumers may not be able to visit the healthcare professionals they choose when restrictive rules prevent providers from practicing to the full extent of their training, licensure and certification, or “scope of practice.”  So far this year, state legislators have considered more than 800 bills that would affect healthcare professionals’ scope of practice, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  

“The demand for services is only expected to grow as healthcare reform is implemented and consumers seek care that they previously deferred,” said McGill.  “With the expected influx of insured patients and the short supply of primary care providers, we need all hands on deck to ensure that everyone who needs care can actually receive it.”

The Coalition has developed a number of resources to help consumers access the healthcare professionals who best meet their needs.  The Coalition’s consumer toolkit is available at http://www.patientsrightscoalition.org/Patient-Resources.....

About the Coalition for Patients’ Rights™

A national coalition of more than 35 professional membership organizations, the Coalition for Patients’ Rights (CPR) represents more than three million licensed and certified healthcare professionals and is committed to ensuring comprehensive healthcare choices for all patients.  Formed in 2006, the Coalition supports a patient’s right to choose the healthcare professionals who best meet their health needs. To that end, the CPR advocates for the ability of all healthcare professionals to practice to the full extent of their ability, training, certification and licensure and works to ensure that transparent, patient-centered scope of practice guidelines promote consumer access to safe, high-quality and cost-effective healthcare.

The Coalition is comprised of a diverse array of healthcare professionals, including registered nurses, naturopathic doctors, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, advanced practice registered nurses (certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and clinical nurse specialists), foot and ankle surgeons and chiropractors.  To view a full list of members and learn more about the Coalition, visit http://www.patientsrightscoalition.org.
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