Thursday, May 05, 2016
"Provider" is a bad word
This Viewpoint discusses issues related to the use of “provider” to describe primary care health professionals with varying levels of training and certification and the effects of these issues on quality of care.
The term “provider” first appeared in the modern health care lexicon as a shorthand referring to delivery entities such as group practices, hospitals, and networks. More recently, its use has expanded to encompass physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and perhaps others, especially those engaged in delivery of primary care.
On one level, this expansion is both logical and convenient, as it reflects the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to modern primary care delivery, extending beyond the traditional dyad of patient and physician.
Being designated as a “primary care provider” also denotes qualifying for payment of services rendered, a designation long sought and highly valued by advanced-practice nurses and PAs.3
Although useful in these contexts, the term “provider” has the potential for adverse consequences for primary care, calling into question the wisdom of its expanded use.
This appeared in a medical journal. The rationale is that the term leads to confusion. If both doctors and nurses are "providers", you might mistake a nurse for a doctor. One would think such mistakes would be rapidly corrected but the writer seems to think not.