Five Health Care Trends to Watch in 2023
Patient Demand for NPs Grows as Underserved Areas Expand
AUSTIN, TX — As the nurse practitioner (NP) profession looks toward the future, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners®
(AANP) has identified five key health care trends to watch. NPs are highly trusted health care providers, and as such, are projected to be the number one fastest-growing profession over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. NPs are at the forefront of diagnosis, research and treatment to ensure patients have access to quality health care.
“In 2023, we will continue to see an increased demand for NPs. The future of our profession is bright, and we stand ready to deliver the care patients need,” said AANP President April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN. “NPs provide exceptional patient care, and our outcomes are reflective of this. We are continuously engaged in education and research to stay on the forefront of diagnosis, treatment and care delivery. We look forward to another year of being the health care provider of choice for millions of families.”
Five Trends to Watch
- Demand for NPs Is Growing Along With the NP Role — With an aging U.S. population, the rising incidence of chronic disease and increasing rates of infectious disease, NPs are in high demand. America’s more than 355,000 licensed NPs conduct more than 1 billion patient visits annually — including via mobile outreach and telehealth — and NPs are trusted by their patients. NPs top the list of professions projected to grow the fastest over the next decade, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the profession projected to grow nearly 46% by 2031.
- Nearly 100 Million People Now Live in Primary Care Shortage Areas — and the Numbers Are Rising — According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 99 million Americans lack adequate access to primary care — a nearly 20% jump from one year ago — and shortages are more severe in rural areas. Rural communities have seen more than 130 of their hospitals close over the past decade, with nearly 20 closing in 2020 alone. A recent survey by AANP found nearly 50% of patients waited longer than one month — and 25% report waited more than two months — for a health care appointment in the last 12 months. NPs are poised to address this challenge, with almost 90% of these advanced practice providers trained to deliver primary care. NPs represent 1 in 4 primary care providers in rural practices, with an even greater percentage in the states that allow them to practice to the full extent of their education and clinical training.
- NPs Are Taking on Leadership Roles in Research and the Diagnosis and Treatment of Illnesses — NPs served on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues as communities face a tridemic of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Consistent with AANP’s long-standing goal of removing barriers to practice and expanding access to health care providers in every state, NPs are leading the effort to diagnose and treat illnesses of all types, as well as participating in research to develop new treatments and combat emerging diseases.
- More States Are Giving Patients Full and Direct Access to NPs — More and more states are taking steps to expand access to primary care by eliminating outdated restrictions and giving patients full and direct access to NPs. This allows NPs to practice at the top of their education and clinical training — and it allows patients to benefit more fully from the care NPs provide. Both New York and Kansas took action in 2022, and now 26 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories have Full Practice Authority (FPA) laws in place. States that have adopted FPA are ranked among those achieving the best health system performance, access to care and patient health outcomes in the nation. In the remainder of states, outdated licensure laws reduce or restrict patient access to NPs. States that have adopted FPA have better access to primary care, better health access for seniors and expanded patient choice.
- Mental Health NPs Are Increasing Access to Mental Health Services — Today, 158 million people live in Mental Health Care Health Professional Shortage Areas. NPs are leading the charge to meet this demand for care and grow the mental health care workforce. Over the last 10 years, almost 100 new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) programs have been added to schools of nursing in the U.S. PMHNP programs have produced more than 13,000 new providers since 2012, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Enrollment and Graduation Reports 2012-2022. A study published in 2022 found that the number of NPs treating Medicare beneficiaries for psychiatric and mental health conditions grew 162% between 2011 and 2019, compared with a 6% decrease in the number of psychiatrists treating Medicare patients. Results from this study also indicated, “… in 2019, these NPs provided 34% and 51% of mental health office visits for [Medicare beneficiaries] in urban and rural areas with full scope of practice regulations,” and the study concludes, “PMHNPs are a rapidly growing workforce that may be instrumental in improving mental health care access.”
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 355,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs' patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate an NP in your community, visit npfinder.com. For more information about NPs, visit aanp.org.