Physician assistant role to expand with value-based purchasing

The value-based hospital purchasing program set to launch next month will give physician assistants (PA) more opportunity to improve care and reduce readmissions, according to a commentary in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

As the industry shifts toward rewarding quality, the looming physician shortage calls for better access to primary care services, which means more PAs in ambulatory settings, wrote Sanjay K. Saha, executive vice president for operations at North Carolina's Wake Forest Baptist Health.

To deliver high-quality care across all settings of care, PAs need to know disease-based best practices, as well as clinical subspecialists, community-based support services and financial processes, he noted.

With more hospital-performance data publicly available under value-based purchasing, PAs are well-suited to identify and resolve gaps in care delivery, potentially enhancing best practice adherence and preventing hospital-acquired conditions, according to the commentary.

Not only is the industry seeing PA roles expanding, but also a rising number of PAs. The U.S. healthcare system has more than 100,000 PAs, up 34 percent from 2008, SmartMoney reported. That number will continue to grow, as PA jobs are expected to jump 30 percent by 2020.

This accompanies a growing reliance on PAs, as they can fulfill about 80 percent of a doctor's role at only a fraction of the cost, SmartMoney noted.

 To learn more:
- read the commentary
- here's the SmartMoney article