Speakers at the opening session of the 2015 State Leadership Conference encouraged psychologists to embrace change
and innovation in health care. From left to right: Dr. Dan Abrahamson, APA’s associate executive director for state advocacy;
physician and author Dr. Jason Hwang; and Dr. Katherine C. Nordal, APA’s executive director for professional practice.
tasks that could be uploaded so we as human beings could focus
on things that require us?”
This trend makes health-care professionals uneasy, Hwang
admitted. And regulations often lag behind innovations.
In Alaska, for instance, dentists fought the introduction
of dental health aide therapists brought in to improve access
to care in the state’s remote areas. Arguing that the aides were
practicing dentistry without a license, the dental society took
legal action. The state’s supreme court ruled in favor of the
aides, telling the dentists that their success would deprive people
of dental care.
What’s key, said Hwang, is to put patients first and deliver
the care they want the way they want it.
For psychologists, innovation brings both opportunities
and challenges, said Nordal. She called on psychology leaders to
exercise “vision and vigilance,” defending psychology’s interests
while enhancing patient care. Thanks to recent advocacy efforts,
psychology interns in Arkansas can now get reimbursed by
Medicaid, a change that will help meet the growing demand
for services prompted by Medicaid’s expansion. And qualified
psychologists in Illinois now have prescriptive authority.
“We need to think creatively about where psychology can
best influence our evolving health-care system — how we
practice, where we practice and what we practice,” said Nordal. n
Rebecca A. Clay is a journalist in Washington, D.C.