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The growth of telemedicine in urgent care and other settings is helping feed greater access to nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Relaxed scope of practice laws in both red and blue states, as well as evolving digital health technology that exploits the popularity of smartphones and tablets, make it easier and less expensive for patients to connect online—a model that typically employs NPs and PAs under the supervision of an on-site physician. This is further encouraged by employers who want to help workers get access to care without leaving the job site. Right now, 21 states and the District of Columbia grant NPs full practice authority, with other legislatures looking at new laws that would raise that number this year. The authority of PAs has seen similar growth; this is also expected to continue.

Expect to See More Urgent Care NPs, PAs, and Telemedicine in 2017