Atrius Health Testifies in Support of Nurse Practitioners

| Posted On Sep 26, 2019 | By:

Dr. Holly Thomas, internist and Associate Chief Medical Officer, and Jennifer Derkarzarian, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, testified on behalf of Atrius Health before the Joint Committee on Public Health in support of legislation that would remove existing restrictions on nurse practitioners on prescriptive practices in the state. Atrius Health was among a number of organizations and legislators who testified in support of the bill HB1867/S1330“An Act to Support Access, Value and Equity in Health Care.”

During a packed hearing at the State House, Dr. Thomas’ testimony indicated that as an integrated delivery system, Atrius Health employs well over 300 nurse practitioners at all of its sites and explained that Atrius Health’s nurse practitioners work side by side with physicians as a critical and vital part of our clinical team.

“Increasingly we are utilizing NPs as primary care providers with their own patient panels which we feel is critical to the patients we care for and to improve access to care at a time when there are shortages of primary care providers nationally,” Thomas noted. “And as a primary care physician myself, I have worked with nurse practitioners in my practice for approximately 20 years and I can attest to the value our nurse practitioners serve in providing quality patient care.”

Dr. Thomas added, “We believe full practice authority for NPs is vital to not only improve access to care that has a direct impact on reducing unnecessary emergency department visits and therefore healthcare costs but also to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens on physicians where physician burnout is a serious issue.”

“Currently antiquated mandates in the Massachusetts Nurse Practice Act have restricted the ability of NPs to practice to the full extent of their education and training and have prevented NPs from being fully utilized in helping the Commonwealth address challenges related to healthcare access and cost,” Dr. Thomas noted, adding that passage of the legislation would reduce administrative burdens on physicians that lead to burnout, a key priority of Atrius Health. “In addition, passage of this legislation will provide for needed changes to help organizations such as Atrius Health be better prepared for the many changes underway as we transform the health care delivery system in the state.”

During her testimony, Derkazarian pointed out that NPs must adhere to national professional standards and must maintain their own professional malpractice insurance. The literature for over 40 years has substantiated the quality of care provided by these nursing professionals and argued that removing the outdated requirement for physician supervision eliminates administrative burdens for the state’s health care delivery systems and is philosophically consistent with the landmark passage of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012.

“We strongly support this legislation that allows highly skilled NPs to practice to the full extent of their education and training to promote the model of patient-centered care that is the hallmark of Atrius Health. Integrated health care systems such as ours should have the ability to determine how best to utilize our NPs to increase access to affordable and quality care. All of our clinicians, including NPs, work with other clinicians and staff across roles and disciplines to provide for population health and chronic disease management, as well as to identify new and better ways to coordinate transitions of care and to provide for better outcomes for our patients,” Derkazarian said.

Atrius Health joined with several other organizations throughout the state including the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and has been a strong supporter of passage of H1867 and S1330 as a way to reduce administrative burdens and needed legislation to permit Atrius Health and other providers to better leverage its workforce and increase access to care. Massachusetts is the only state in New England that has this current requirement, and we strongly encourage the Public Health Committee to act quickly and favorably on this long-overdue legislation.

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