Will expanding the scope of non-physician services beyond their education and training mean that more healthcare professionals will provide care in rural areas?
No. Scope expansion does not mean more access to care. A review of the geographic distribution of the healthcare workforce shows that removing physician involvement does not equal expanding access to care or more coverage in underserved geographic areas. In states that changed laws to allow non-physicians to attempt to provide physician-level care without physician involvement, healthcare workforce shortages still persist.
Will changing South Dakota’s laws to expand the scope of non-physicians decrease healthcare costs?
No. Changing state laws to expand scope of practice can actually lead to more healthcare costs, not less. Care delivered by non-physicians is more expensive than care delivered by physicians, and has resulted in increased healthcare costs for patients. This is due to overprescribing, unnecessary and overutilization of diagnostic imaging, and other services. This has important ramifications on patient safety, quality of care, and the cost of healthcare in South Dakota.
Why is a team-based approach to healthcare important?
Removing physicians from a patient’s care team decreases the quality of care. Patients are concerned that allowing non-physicians to provide physician-level care is a step in the wrong direction. According to a 2022 survey of South Dakota patients, 94% say it’s important to have physicians involved in their health care diagnosis and treatment decisions. South Dakota physicians are highly educated, fully trained and held to rigorous standards for patient safety. Unfortunately, if South Dakota’s elected representatives become influenced by special interests that seek to change our state’s laws to permit non-physicians to practice beyond what they’re trained to do, patient safety is at risk. Healthcare is best delivered with a team-based approach which includes physicians and other health professionals working together, sharing decisions and information for the benefit of the patient.