Independent nurse practitioners (NPs) are growing in popularity, especially for patients who want more control over their healthcare. As patients seek preventative, personalized care, many are turning to NP’s, especially those who live in rural or underserved communities.
Independent nurse practitioners provide medical services such as diagnosis, treatment of chronic illnesses and acute conditions, vaccinations, and physical exams – often at a reduced cost. It is not surprising that demand continues to grow. NPs are seen as a valuable alternative and a solution for underserved populations.
Access to healthcare continues to be a major issue in the United States. Advanced practice clinicians (APCs) play a vital role in increasing access to high-quality care.
Why See an Independent NP?
Leveraging their schooling and clinical experience, nurse practitioners can provide many of the same services available in other care settings. These services vary based on their specialty, and provide patients with experienced, personable alternatives when seeking a healthcare provider. The ability for NPs to practice independently often helps to increase and accelerate access to care
In addition to successfully diagnosing and treating patients, their lower overhead costs mean that they do not always have to charge extra for services as larger institutions do. As a result, increasing numbers of patients are discovering the advantages of working with independent nurse practitioners for their health service needs.
A study published in PubMed® backs that assertion, concluding that, “Patients reassigned to NPs experienced similar outcomes and incurred less utilization at comparable cost relative to MD patients. NPs may offer a cost-effective approach to addressing anticipated shortages of primary care physicians.”
Providing Personalized, Whole-Person Care
Patients who visit an independent nurse practitioner appreciate the personalized, educational approach care. They also benefit from NPs’ holistic approach, which emphasizes addressing a patients’ physical, mental, community, and social needs. An independent nurse practitioner can offer customized assessments and treatments that are tailored to the patient’s needs. This allows for more fitting advice on issues such as diet, exercise, and medication dosage – including controlled substances.
Additionally, nurse practitioners’ education and training emphasize preventive care. The NP role focuses on identifying problems before they progress into more serious chronic illnesses or major injuries. Through this approach, patients are empowered to take proactive measures that help them lead a healthier lifestyle.
Such emphasis on the whole patient has been linked to improved patient satisfaction, which is why so many patients choose to see a nurse practitioner. Another study published in PubMed found that:
- 98% reported satisfaction with an NP providing care
- 95% felt that the NP was able to effectively deal with illness
- 94% reported an increased chance or willingness to see an NP at a future visit
Closing Healthcare Gaps for Patients
The average nurse practitioner works to close the gaps in healthcare, especially for underserved populations who experience inequity in accessing care. With growing disparities between populations and their access to medical care, NPs provide essential, accessible high-quality healthcare.
She added, “Our place-based clinical services are embedded in public housing in Washington, D.C. in order to improve healthcare access, education, and trust in the community.”
In addition to providing a wide range of medical services, NPs bring a unique set of knowledge and expertise around cultural proficiency and community advocacy. This fundamental understanding informs their strategies to address the social determinants of health that affect underserved populations.
Nurses have historically led the charge for adopting new technology, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs). So, it is not surprising that telehealth technology has been successful for many NPs in helping serve patients who may otherwise have access to care, especially chronically and acutely ill patients. While the future of telehealth is unclear, telehealth currently remains a popular and viable alternative for many patient visits – and is an important component to any successful practice.
Providers who utilize telehealth in their practice have cited benefits like:
- Increased patient volumes
- Reduced no-show rates
- Enhanced flexibility in scheduling
- Improved continuity of care
- Simplified management of chronic conditions
NP Trends to Watch For
Nurse practitioner ranked first on U.S. News & World Report’s “2023 Best Health Care Jobs” and second on its “100 Best Jobs of 2023.” These rankings are based on factors such as demand, salary, opportunities for growth, and more. It is easy to see why – they offer more flexible and personalized care options than many traditional settings.
As gaps-in-care continue to increase due to the shortage of providers, especially in primary care, watch for states to reduce or remove barriers for nurse practitioners to have full practice authority. With a combination of experience, expertise, and autonomy, NPs provide a unique approach to healthcare that appeals to many patients. In addition, studies show that working with an NP can lead to better health outcomes.
This trend is expected to continue as patients and providers increasingly discover the benefits independent NP practice for their long-term healthcare needs. This demand for practice without physicians’ supervision is just one way healthcare is evolving and improving access to care for patients.
How to Become a NP Private Practice Owner
For those who aspire to take patient care into their own hands as a nurse practitioner business owner, there are many things to consider. This checklist for independent nurse practitioners lays out initial steps NPs can take as they begin their journey to independence.
Whether in full authority, reduced practice, or restricted practice states, NPs have opportunities to pursue practice ownership, with varying levels of difficulty. Based upon factors like the states granted practice authority, the type of practice they plan to open, and their plans for credentialing with payers, there may be varying requirements NPs need to meet.
Preparing for Practice Ownership
With so much to consider, it is easy to feel lost. It’s a good idea to let your mind wander and daydream about the possibilities, but once that’s done, it is time to focus on documenting plans, setting goals, and building the practice you’ve dreamed of.
- Gathering your thoughts and ideas into a NP business plan
- Securing professional liability, general liability, and other required insurance coverage
- Determining if your practice will require physician oversight
- Considering your capital requirements and financing opportunities
By considering the items above, advanced practices nurses can proceed with confidence. Though entrepreneurial NPs may face challenges when pursuing independent practice, there are many resources available to support their practice goals.
Nurse practitioners can receive support from:
- Local Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
- Business start-up and operations consultants
- Professional organizations like the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
- Local or digital networks of nurse entrepreneurs
- Collaborating physician matchmakers
Launch Your Practice with Support from NP Advantage
Off-load burdens like EHR (Electronic Health Records) selection, managing credentialing with payers, and tedious billing with our Nurse Practitioner Entrepreneur Solution Suite. Enjoy the benefits of being independent, without the challenges of being alone. Receive on-going support from our team of business consultants, practice technology experts, and digital marketing professionals.