Patient-care Teams Include More Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants But Lag on Adding Behavioral Health Specialists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, Jan. 18, 2016

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224 

WASHINGTON, DC — Family physicians are broadening their patient-care teams and collaborating with nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to a greater extent. However, the trend toward incorporating behavioral health specialists is growing at a slower pace.

Those were the findings of a research team led by Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center for Family Medicine and Primary Care in “The Diversity of Providers on the Family Medicine Team(,” a policy brief published in the January-February Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Using data from the 11,220 applicants for the 2014 ABFM examination, Bazemore found that more than half of family physicians reported working with nurse practitioners and nearly four out of 10 worked with physician assistants. However, only two in 10 family physicians regularly worked with behavioral specialists and slightly more than one in 10 worked regularly with psychiatrists.

“Family Physicians appear to be heeding calls to broaden primary care teams to better meet patient needs, though behavioral health integration remains limited in family medicine and other disciplines,” Bazemore wrote in the brief. “These high percentages reporting work with NPs and PAs may be related to their ability to more readily bill for clinical services, but they also highlight how frequently FPs, NPs, and PAs are working together in primary care practice.”

“With lots of federal and private investment in primary care transformation and behavioral health integration, and MACRA forcing increased attention to value-based purchasing and population health management, it is an ideal time for FPs to enhance team-based delivery of care” he concluded.


About the Robert Graham Center

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care works to improve individual and population health by enhancing the delivery of primary care. The Center staff generates and analyzes evidence that brings a family medicine and primary care perspective to health policy deliberations at local, state, and national levels.

Founded in 1999, the Robert Graham Center is an independent research unit affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The information and opinions contained in research from the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.