What is an Advanced Practice Provider?
When a cancer patient has a complex situation that needs to be addressed, it’s often an OHC Advanced Practice Provider (or APP) who provides the treatment. Working closely with OHC physicians, APPs are a critical link in the management of our patients’ care and are specially trained to do so.
‘Advanced Practice Provider’ is a general title used to describe individuals who have completed the advanced education and training that qualifies them to (1) manage medical problems and (2) prescribe and manage treatments within the scope of their training. Some specific types of APPs include clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
A minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited program is required to become an Advanced Practice Provider. In addition, licensing is required by the state. Different government bodies handle licensing based on the specific type of APP training.
The OHC medical team includes advanced-practice nurses who specialize in the fields of medical hematology (blood disorders), medical oncology, radiation oncology, and gynecological oncology. OHC has more APPs on staff than any other independent cancer care practice in the tri-state.
Andy Guinigundo is one such APP at OHC. He notes that people often think of APPs as substitutes for physicians, but that isn’t the case. Think of them more like the highly educated and trained ‘executive vice presidents’ of your medical team, working with and trusted by the CEO (your physician) to make and execute important decisions about your care.
With an aging population and increases in cancer cases, physicians nationwide find it increasingly difficult to maximize the time they have with their patients. It’s this growing problem that led to the increased use of APPs, who are now seen as a cost-effective, highly qualified solution. The results have been outstanding.
The emerging use of APPs nationwide has even resulted in tremendous cost savings. For example, according to a report by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (Nurse Practioner Cost Effectiveness), researchers found that a greater use of APPs in Texas would project to an immediate savings of $16 billion.
Other benefits include projected decreases in average length of stay and readmissions at hospitals, saving patients and their families unnecessary costs and hardships.
According to findings from its ongoing patient experience surveys, OHC is seeing an extremely high level of patient satisfaction and quality scores.
OHC Director of Nursing Natasha Clinton believes that within a decade, many parts of the country will experience a shortage of oncologists; however, APPs will allow them to provide high-quality, convenient, and innovative care for an increasing number of patients.
Other factors contributing to the increased need for APPs are an expected increase in medical services by aging baby boomers and an increase in people who will be newly insured through health-care reform.
Although the use and importance of APPs is just now entering the media spotlight, OHC has been a leader in the use of APPs for 15 years. In fact, APPs have been and continue to be a key in OHC’s plan to adapt and stay ahead of the ever-changing field of patient care.
According to Guinigundo, OHC’s APPs are part of the evolution of finding the best mix for a great care team. “If we’re going to be a cancer center that will continue to provide the best care for our patients, we have to adapt and change with market conditions…and APPs are a part of that mix.” He adds, “We are skilled at discussing a patient’s overall treatment plan while also recognizing individualized treatment side effects and prescribing interventions to treat those side effects.”
Like traditional nurses, APPs are also experts in supportive care, and bring a unique perspective to the team at OHC. Their background in nursing and supportive care, combined with advanced training and increased responsibility in patient care, make them invaluable to both their patients and their fellow care providers.
Currently, OHC is the only group of physicians in the Greater Cincinnati area that provides patients with treatment planning and treatment summary visits. APPs are a reason why OHC is able to give patients innovative care not offered elsewhere.
If you’d like to know more about APPs and how they can help you, feel free to speak to an OHC APP on your next visit. They’re here for you.