The Growing Importance of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)
An exceptional health care team consists of more than just physicians. Excellent medical care is a team effort. One field within the medical profession that has grown substantially in prominence in recent years is the role of the advanced practice provider (APP). Also known as nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician associates/assistants (PAs), this group of healthcare professionals has expanded to include many practitioners that are now classified under the umbrella term APP.
“Depending on the setting, an NP/PA may work independently or in collaboration with a physician. They treat illnesses and chronic conditions, prescribe treatments, and are an integral part of the healthcare team,” says Cristina Rubio-Delgado, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, LSSGB, Interim Executive, APPs for the University of Miami Health System. “They can work alone or with multiple providers in both the clinic and hospital setting.”
Regardless of where your health care journey takes you, there is a high probability that an APP will be an important part of it.
Advanced practice providers work closely with physicians in several inpatient and ambulatory settings and can also practice in specialized areas.
You can find APPs in various settings, including retail clinics, urgent care centers, emergency rooms, and most specialized medical clinics. They are even beginning to expand into mental health services.
In some cases, APPs serve as patients’ primary care providers.
“APPs are highly skilled and trained in their designated specialties,” Rubio-Delgado says. “They possess master’s degrees in their fields, and many have doctorates.”
The relationship between the physician and the APP is collaborative.
The physician is consulted when necessary and can step in as treatments progress or conditions become more complex. In many cases, the patient may see an APP for their immediate health care needs since the advanced practice provider has the medical training to assess, diagnose, and treat many medical conditions. Working with more than 1,300 physicians, APPs are an essential part of the University of Miami Health System.
“They not only allow medical clinics to provide better service to their patients, but they also enhance the quality of care with their expertise,” says Rubio-Delgado.
Visiting an APP for your healthcare needs can provide patients with several benefits.
For one, appointments are often easier to make with an APP. Plus, you get the expertise of the APP at your visit, with the full support of a physician if needed. Patients always have the option of selecting an APP or physician when making their appointment. Another advantage of working with APPs is related to telehealth (or virtual visits), which have become a larger part of medical care as technology has improved. Today, many APPs specialize in providing quality care to patients via virtual appointments.
The patient comes first
Having more APPs as part of the University of Miami Health System has significantly increased patient satisfaction with their care. In fact, Rubio-Delgado’s team of more than 50 NPs that comprise UHealth Clinics at Walgreens recently won the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for maintaining a very high level (over 95% likely to recommend) of satisfaction among their large group of patients for 12 consecutive months.
It’s easy to understand why the role of the APP is here to stay. Thanks to their rise in popularity in today’s evolving healthcare landscape, their impressive educational credentials, and their professional versatility, APPs continue to be vital members of every health care team. Should you have an opportunity to visit an APP for your next healthcare appointment, take it. You’ll be glad that you did.
Wyatt Myers is a contributing writer for UHealth’s news service.