Growing up, I knew I wanted a job helping others. This passion is what drove me to become a doctor and helped me through years of medical school, residency, and ultimately into my own practice. It is the same passion that motivates me today to ensure that my patients receive the best care.
Of course, quality care requires a whole team of health care providers, and everyone involved plays an important role in meeting the needs of our patients. But it is important that doctors are at the helm, leading the way.
In a physician-led, team-based model of care, physicians and other healthcare professionals work collaboratively, within their experience and training, to ensure that patients are handled safely and effectively. More importantly, this model leads to the best health outcomes for our patients. A study by the American Medical Association found that physician-led care resulted in fewer emergency room visits, fewer hospital admissions and readmissions, shorter hospital stays, and health care costs. overall poor health.
Additionally, studies show that 95% of patients want a doctor to be involved in their diagnosis and treatment. With eight years of formal education, a minimum of three years of residency, and at least 12,000 hours of clinical training, physicians are the best trained health care providers – and we are trained to lead a care team.
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Physician-led, team-based care can also help solve one of Kentucky’s most pressing health issues: access to care. The Health Resources and Services Administration predicts Kentucky will face a shortage of 960 primary care physicians by 2025, the third-largest shortage nationwide.
First, we need to invest in programs that keep and attract more doctors to Kentucky, such as funding for medical graduate school and loan repayment programs. Kentucky should also consider other evidence-based reforms to address our healthcare workforce shortage, such as expanding telehealth and creating new initiatives and programs that encourage students underserved areas to pursue medical education.
The Kentucky Medical Association led the way in bringing these reforms to our state. Last year, we helped pass Bill 523, which established a state-based loan relief program for physicians and other providers wishing to relocate to underserved areas, and we will continue to seek solutions to recruit and retain more physicians.
Despite what some may claim, solving complex issues like health care access, quality, and cost is not as simple as expanding the scope of practice for non-physicians and allowing independent practice. , as a recent Courier Journal article on nurse practitioners indicates. We know this because it has been tried and failed.
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Over the past two decades, various scope of practice initiatives have been adopted in an effort to fill gaps within the state’s healthcare workforce. Despite these efforts, 94% of Kentucky counties still faced a primary care shortage in 2021. Since nonphysician providers tend to locate in the same general areas as physicians, even in states where scope of practice laws are relaxed, these reforms do little to remedy the problem.
Not to mention that physician involvement, even when care is provided by non-physician providers, is linked to better quality care, which is something all providers should want for their patients. This is why a majority of states, including those neighboring Kentucky, have at least some provision regulating the level and extent of care provided by non-physicians.
Access, quality and cost, all of which are inextricably linked to physician-led and team-based care, are the foundation of the Kentucky Medical Association’s new Kentucky Physicians Care campaign. This effort will educate Kentuckians about the role physicians play as part of the care team and how collaboration among providers leads to the best patient outcomes. We will also continue to advocate for policy solutions that will ensure the longevity of this model, even as the health care system evolves.
As a physician, I care deeply about the health and well-being of not only my patients, but all Kentuckians. It’s not just numbers and charts. I know I need a strong team working alongside me to provide the best care. I feel an enormous responsibility to serve my patients in the safest and most efficient way possible, because I know that the positive impacts of quality and accessible care can be felt in entire communities.
Delivering this type of care requires sticking to and expanding on what really works: the physician-led team model that puts the best interests and care needs of patients first.
Monalisa Tailor, MD, is a practicing physician and president of the Kentucky Medical Association.
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