Physician assistant utilization in radiation oncology
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INTRODUCTION: The demand for healthcare services is expected to increase significantly faster than the rate of growth of healthcare providers in the United States. One method for meeting the demand is the utilization of physician assistants in the management of patient care. Medical doctors and residents have traditionally provided radiation oncology patient care. It was not until recently that the use of physician assistants in radiation oncology became common practice. However, the most effective utilization of physician assistants in radiation oncology has not been fully elucidated at this time. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE: The demand for radiation oncology services is expected to increase in part because people are living longer; there is increased cancer survivorship, and better treatment modalities. Physician assistants are capable of providing high quality patient care comparable to medical doctors and improving patient satisfaction. The need for Physician assistants in radiation oncology is expected to increase significantly by 2020. Effective models of team-based care are becoming increasingly important as the demand for radiation oncology services increases. PAs can be used in a variety of different models including shared, independent, and mixed models of team-based care. The utilization of physician assistants in radiation oncology is maximized when physician assistants provide care that otherwise could only be performed by a medical doctor. For example, when radiation oncology centers use a mixed model of team-based medicine, the practice can bill services provided by a physician assistant at 100% of the medical doctor service fee rate thus maximizing the cost effectiveness of physician assistants. METHODS: This study is aimed at determining the statistical difference in terms of new patient and established patient visits within an academic medical center radiation oncology unit before and after the addition of a physician assistant. A pre- and post-physician assistant analysis of new and established patient visits will be analyzed using a paired T-test. CONCLUSION: This study is unique in that it is focusing on a single radiation oncology center. A significant limitation of the study will be the small, single center, sample size. However, the results of this study can be used in the future as a reference for the expected impact of a physician assistant on a radiation oncology center.