In the News: Feb 6–13

Number of Nurse Practitioners Continues to Rise

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights how the nurse practitioner (NP) workforce has more than doubled over the past 7 years and is helping fill the primary care access gap, specifically in rural areas where there are fewer medical school graduates pursuing family physician roles.

According to a Health Affairs analysis, the number of NPs grew from 91K in 2010 to 190K in 2017, with the outpatient setting representing the highest growth area. Numerous factors are driving this growth, including an increase in the number of educational programs, gaps in primary care access and policies elevating the role of advanced practitioners. The article projects there will be 2 nurse practitioners to every 5 physicians in 2030. However, despite the fact that NPs are filling a much-needed primary care gap, this shift in nurse workforce is causing high nursing turnover rates in the hospital setting.

As the number of advanced practitioners continues to rise, comprehensive workforce planning enabling all clinicians to work top of license is critical and must become a strategic priority for health systems. To learn more about the current state of the NP workforce, as well as strategies to optimize advanced practitioner deployments and case studies of successful advanced practitioner programs, please read the Sg2 report Optimizing Use of Advanced Practitioners.

Virtual Health Helps Health System Treat the Flu

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights how Spectrum Health is using a telehealth platform, Spectrum Health Now, to assess patients with flu-like symptoms. Spectrum reports 50% of their daily virtual visits are related to flu symptoms during this busy flu season, and this new technology has helped reduce the strain on its ED and urgent care clinics. Patients and payers have also saved over $650,000 since the platform was introduced.

Patients treated for flu-like symptoms through telehealth were surveyed to find out if they would have sought other methods of care. Most respondents indicated they would have gone to an urgent care (42.7%) or a primary care office (36.5%). By leveraging virtual care, organizations like Spectrum have been able to open their ED and urgent cares for higher-acuity patients, while simultaneously reducing the contagious presence of the flu within those care settings. Spectrum has reported a 34% increase in flu-related virtual visits this year, which is most likely attributed to a patient’s growing trust in telehealth services coupled with strong marketing campaigns.

Increased patient demand combined with physician shortages place stress on care delivery across the System of CARE. Incorporating virtual health into your strategic plan is not only integral for expanding growth opportunities in today’s health care landscape, but also for maximizing physician efficiency and increasing the quality of care a patient receives. To learn more about combining virtual health with your organization’s growth and performance goals, please read the Sg2 report Virtual Health: Aligning Solutions With Enterprise-Wide Priorities.

The US’s First 5G-Enabled Hospital Opens in California

A FierceHealthcare article discusses how the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will unveil the first entirely 5G-enabled hospital in its Palo Alto health care system, which is affiliated with the Stanford University School of Medicine.

By using 5G, physicians will be able to share 3D images of an individual’s anatomy with resolution so clear it can be used for telesurgery across the country. This technology will allow top VA physicians to consult during surgery from anywhere nationwide.

Technology continues to evolve how health care is delivered across the country. Each year, Sg2 identifies key technologies and disrupters to look out for in the coming year, details how these technologies will impact health care, and explains which patients, caregivers or organizations have the most potential to benefit from these technologies. To learn more about these potential disrupters, please watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Disrupters to Watch in 2020.

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