Why physicians don't like the word 'provider'

Since 1965, the government and commercial insurance sectors have adopted the term "provider" to refer to entities that can receive Medicare payments, including physicians, according to an Aug. 22 report from the American Medical Association. 

However, many physicians dislike the term, and leaders at some systems, including Dover, Del.-based Bayhealth, are trying to put a stop to it. 

Bayhealth's chief wellness officer, Thomas Vaughan, MD, told the AMA that "some physicians find it a very negative and derogatory term to address them."

Some physicians find that the term "provider" belittles the training and education required to become a physician. They believe that provider is too generic and inadequate to describe qualifications. 

The AMA has a policy in place that urges "all physicians to insist on being identified as a physician, to sign only those professional or medical documents identifying them as physicians, and to not let the term physician be used by any other organization or person involved in health care."

Additionally, the AMA and Dr. Vaughan believe that the term physician promotes professionalism. 

At Bayhealth, the word "provider'” has been removed from medical staff bylaws and, if it is spotted as a substitute for "physician" in any of the health system's publications or other materials, a call is placed to "gently explain" the new policy. 

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