Digital venture shines light on the pharma prescribing power of nurse practitioners and physician assistants

Drugs prescription pad
Pharma companies need to pay attention to the nurse practitioners and physician assistants set to write more than 300 million prescriptions this year. (Getty/LIgorko)

One-third of all prescriptions this year will be written by nurse practitioners and physician assistantsmaking them a key target for pharma.

Thanks to the pandemic, the importance of NPs and PAs emerged as many took on more responsibilities. Those upgraded duties are only expected to grow as the demand for doctors outstrips supply.

By 2033, the U.S. will suffer a shortage of more than 55,000 primary care doctors and 86,000 specialty physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

“NPs and PAs are writing a billion prescriptions and the value of those prescriptions is about 30%, regardless of the disease state," said Carmen Mazzatta, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the Point of Care Network.

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To help pharma companies reach this group of advanced practitioners, Point of Care Network is partnering with healthcare marketing and analytics company Lasso to launch a more targeted approach. POCN Specialty is built on a database of more than 400,000 NPs and PAs with information about their clinical diagnostic, treatment and prescribing behaviors.

Its own data reflect the AAMC's doctor shortage predictions. POCN sees a 45% surge in nurse practitioners and a 31% growth in physician assistants by the end of the decade, with only 4% growth in the number of medical doctors in the same period.

In a survey of its members, POCN found that nine out of 10 NPs and PAs said they had the power to make autonomous treatment decisions, and 79% said they have influenced the physicians in their practices.

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The more than 200,000 advanced practice provider NPs and PAs operating in primary care and another 190,000 in specialty care make up “the healthcare audience in the United States for the future,” Mazzatta said.

And targeting NPs and PAs with custom campaigns and education will be more effective than using one-size-fits all materials, Mike DiNorscio, Lasso co-founder and chief revenue officer, said.

“It's helping to drive better patient outcomes because we're informing the right people with the right things, who can then inform the patients about drugs and treatments," he said.