This is actually a very good thing. Most problems in old age don’t require a doctor’s intervention. A doctor’s time also costs a lot of money. How much of that time can you afford to buy?
Most of your care will be handled by nurse practitioners. Thad Wilson, who heads the American College of Nurse Practitioners, has been on his own campaign lately, demanding that NPs, as they’re called, have a place at the reform table.
(Wilson is also on the faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, from which this picture was taken.)
There is a difference, he notes, between a nurse and a nurse practitioner. The difference is education and certification. Some NPs even have doctorates. So they’re not at the bottom of the health care pyramid. They’re actually somewhere in the middle.
Much of the HITECH Stimulus is aimed at empowering these people. NPs are going to be filling out many of these electronic forms. They’re also going to be using these forms to direct care. Coordination between NPs and doctors, using technology, is the key to cost savings.
Here comes Wilson’s pitch:
We need to use all the qualified providers that are available rather than engaging in turf battles over numbers of years of education and degree titles.
Creation of an integrated team approach to care that allows all providers to practice to the fullest extent of their education and qualifications and to match patient needs to provider skills rather than requiring the highest priced provider to see all patients (MD).
Let me add one more important point.
When you get old, what you’ll want more than anything else is a personal relationship, and a connection, with someone who can answer your questions and see you through the health care system, clear through to the other side.
Chances are that someone is going to be an NP, or someone who works for her. So be nice to these people.