"Primary Care Technicians" Could Close Primary Care Gap
The United States is facing a growing physician shortage, estimated to reach more than 90,000 physicians by the end of the decade. According to one recent Health Affairs article, creating primary care technicians, similar to emergency medical technicians and paramedics, can help alleviate that shortage.
"A new type of caregiver, the primary care technician, has the potential to fill the primary care workforce gap," the authors wrote. "If [emergency medical services] professionals can deliver lifesaving care miles from their supervising physicians, shouldn't comparably trained extenders…be used to improve access to primary care?"
PCTs could be trained quickly to provide preventive care and to treat stable chronic conditions and minor illnesses. They would also rely on technology to assist with care and be able to practice apart from their care team. After training, they could then be deployed in underserved neighborhoods.
In order to implement the PCT model, a curriculum would need to be developed, as well as enabling technology and supportive public policies, the authors noted.
"Primary technicians have the potential to make primary care more accessible to patients, more rewarding for providers and more affordable for all," they concluded.
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