The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) opposes the use of the term “provider” as a substitute for the term “physician” or to imply non-physician clinicians are the equivalent of physicians. The use of the term "provider" as a substitute for the term physician minimizes important distinctions in education and training and implies a uniformity of expertise and knowledge among health care professionals. The generic term “provider” may create confusion for patients or be used as a tactic to encourage the use of health care professionals of perceived lower cost in place of physicians.
The AAFP acknowledges that the term “provider” is broadly used and accepted to mean a professional who directly provides health care services or to mean facilities or institutions which provide health care. It is frequently used in an insurance or payment context to mean those who are paid to deliver services under insurance contracts as referenced in “provider networks” or “provider directories.”
(2002) (October 2023 COD)