Your PCP is not an MD, get over it.

The United States faces a shortage of physicians—a shortage that the Association of American Medical Colleges reports will reach 91,500 by 2020. This shortage is caused by many factors, including an aging population, healthcare reform that will provide healthcare access to an additional 64 million people, and more physicians retiring than are entering the profession. Greater pressures on primary care are driving the evolution of the primary care physician.

Healthcare reform and its accompanying new care model—the patient-centered medical home (PCMH)—are also influencing the evolution of the PCP. According to the American College of Physicians, a PCMH is “a team-based model of care led by a personal physician who provides continuous and coordinated care throughout a patient’s lifetime to maximize health outcomes.” This team-based model puts the patient in the center and the PCP as the team leader directing and coordinating the patient’s care with and through other healthcare providers, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, specialists, care coordinators, and many others. In effect, the PCP is the quarterback who orchestrates patient care as patients develop health problems—but he or she is not a gatekeeper for care. Pilot programs are already proving the value of this model.

So what’s really changing? While MDs and DOs have historically been the only PCPs (ie, primary care PHYSICIANS), the definition of PCP is evolving to primary care PROVIDER, which allows for the inclusion of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. In fact, Highmark Inc, a Pennsylvania health insurer, has decided to recognize nurse practitioners as primary care providers—a designation previously held only by physicians. This means that the composition of the PCP target audience is changing significantly. With the continued shortage of primary care physicians and the creation of new care models, we and our clients, as marketers, can no longer think of only physicians when we think of primary care.

About Havas Worldwide Health
Havas Worldwide Health owns the Euro RSCG Life and Health4Brands (H4B) networks. The Havas Worldwide Health network has a uniquely unified model with all disciplines—medical, strategy, managed markets, medical education, digital, DTP/DTC, advertising, and PR—inside one agency, with one P&L. This allows us to deliver channel-agnostic solutions that are right for our clients’ brands without the traditional silos and intra-agency complexities. Also, with more than 2000 employees in 60 agencies in over 50 countries, Havas Worldwide Health has a presence in all the major regions and markets. Havas Worldwide Health is the global health holding company within Havas Worldwide (Euronext Paris: HAV.PA), a global advertising and communications services group headquartered in Paris.

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