New York, NY — A new “Taking the Pulse” report from Decision Resources shows that people in two of America’s fastest-growing medical professions are eager to partner with pharmaceutical companies to deliver the best patient education resources possible.

The key numbers: Open to industry

The report found that the majority of nurse practitioners (79%) and physician assistants (69%) are providing or recommending patient support resources for patients. It’s a growing pressure point in their roles as more and more insured Americans flood into practices. 47% of PAs and 43% of NPs said the amount of time they spend on patient education has increased over the past two years. That’s even as their EHR use increased from 2013 to 2014: PAs spend 4.4 hours per day on EHRs, and NPs spend the most time at 4.7 hours, vs. an average time for physicians of 2.8 hours per day.

There is significant demand for patient resources from pharma among these professionals – nearly two in five physician assistants agree that they would feel motivated to engage pharma digital assets more often if pharmas provided them more resources they could share with their patients.

The potential impact: A new frontline in care

Nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are increasingly important audiences for our brands. Not only do they write prescriptions and enjoy broad autonomy in their practices, their numbers are growing rapidly.

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) found a 75% in the number of PAs over just eight years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports similar numbers and projects that the number of PA jobs will increase by 39% from 74,800 in 2008 to 103,900 in 2018.

Although the growth of NPs has slowed somewhat, an Auerbach study estimated that an additional 6,000-7,000 NPs will be added to the workforce annually. That will represent a 94% increase in the number of NPs between 2008 and 2025.

The growth of these critical roles is going to change the ratios on the frontlines of care. Currently, the ratio of physicians-NPs is 5:1. By 2025, it will be 3:1. And in primary care (where approximately half of NPs practice) it will fall from its current 4:1 to 2.3:1.


About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.