Those working in physician assistant jobs face many challenges. As an advanced care position, physician assistants are not only tasked with evaluating and treating patients, but they can also serve as leaders of patient-centered medical teams, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Perhaps the best way to tackle these many hurdles is to be prepared for all eventualities. This involves identifying obstacles. Discover some of the ones physician assistants may face on the job:
1. Tight HIPAA regulations
Abiding by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act involves more than just avoiding discussion of patient health issues with outside parties. As Medical Economics explained, healthcare systems must also be proactive in their protection of patient privacy, which is especially difficult considering the non-stop integration of technology.
To better protect sensitive information from prying eyes or accidental release, it is important for those in physician assistant jobs to remain educated on HIPAA. For instance, physician assistants should ensure their medical facility abides by these Security Rule criteria:
- Physical safeguards: This may be as simple as locking the office door after closing hours.
- Administrative safeguards: Staff members need to be trained on how to properly preserve protected health information.
- Technical safeguards: Data on digital devices should be password-protected.
- Policies and procedures: Medical facilities must have rules in place to ensure compliance with HIPAA.
- Organizational requirements: Healthcare systems need to ensure all partners and business associates are also HIPAA compliant.
By familiarizing themselves with HIPAA, physician assistants can fully protect patient privacy rights while avoiding legal trouble.
2. Focusing on patient-centered care
With the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came a slew of changes in the healthcare industry. Those in physician assistant jobs are in a prime position to adapt to these transitions. Of course, being in a good spot to facilitate change doesn’t mean it’s always easy – any adjustment comes with challenges, and much of that responsibility falls on physician assistants.
As the AAPA explained, the ACA recognizes physicians as a crucial element in the integration of certain care models, particularly the patient-centered medical home (PCMH). The PCMH calls on the skills of all varieties of medical providers, encouraging collaboration to ensure the patient receives the best care possible. That means physician assistants have to not only focus on patient needs but also understand communication best practices.
3. Increased health needs
As new health trends emerge, so too must physician assistants change up their approach to care. This requires physician assistants to familiarize themselves with diseases and conditions that are affecting the population.
One such common concern is chronic disease. According to 2012 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 Americans have at least two chronic diseases. These individuals may have a higher risk of hospital readmittance, which can affect reimbursement, and require a different approach to care altogether. For instance, physician assistants must focus more on educating these individuals about lifestyle and dietary adjustments and how they impact their chronic conditions.
4. Workplace hazards
Every workplace has its set of inherent risks, but medical facilities have more than the average office. Because of this, physician assistants face the challenge of protecting their well-being on the job. Just consider all the hazards in the emergency department.
The Health and Safety Authority highlighted a number of these risks, including potential exposure to infectious bodily fluids, contact with chemically contaminated patients, electronic shock due to improper equipment training, and even hearing loss from ambulance sirens.
Physician assistants have a challenging but rewarding job, and with the right preventative measures and preparation, they can overcome these obstacles.