Employment of mid-level providers in primary care and control of diabetes.
ABSTRACT Examine potential associations between inclusion of mid-level providers in United States Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care programs and diabetes control.
We established a cohort of diabetes patients (alive October 1, 1999) using the VA Diabetes Registry and VA corporate databases. 1999 VA Survey of Primary Care Practices data were combined with individual-patient information. We used a two-level hierarchical model to determine the relationship between staffing characteristics and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), among 88,682 patients from 198 clinics.
Inclusion of nurse practitioners (NPs) at relatively limited levels (% of all providers who are NPs) in the primary care program was significantly associated with HbA1c lower by 0.31 percentage points (95% CI, -0.50% to -0.12%) compared to programs that did not include NPs. Having some level of NP staffing vs. no NP staffing was associated HbA1c lower by 0.25%. Inclusion of physician assistants (PAs) in primary care programs was generally not associated with a statistically significant difference in HbA1c. The exception is that moderate levels of PA staffing were associated with slightly higher HbA1c [0.18%, 95% CI, 0.02-0.34)].
Diabetes control among primary care patients appeared to benefit from inclusion of NPs, while an analogous association was not found for PAs.
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ABSTRACT: One approach to the patient-centered medical home, particularly for patients with chronic illnesses, is to include physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) on primary care teams. Using Medicare claims and electronic health record data from a large physician group, we compared outcomes for two groups of adult Medicare patients with diabetes whose conditions were at various levels of complexity: those whose care teams included PAs or NPs in various roles, and those who received care from physicians only. Outcomes were generally equivalent in thirteen comparisons. In four comparisons, outcomes were superior for the patients receiving care from PAs or NPs, but in three other comparisons the outcomes were superior for patients receiving care from physicians only. Specific roles performed by PAs and NPs were associated with different patterns in the measure of the quality of diabetes care and use of health care services. No role was best for all outcomes. Our findings suggest that patient characteristics, as well as patients' and organizations' goals, should be considered when determining when and how to deploy PAs and NPs on primary care teams. Accordingly, training and policy should continue to support role flexibility for these health professionals.Health Affairs 11/2013; 32(11):1942-8. · 4.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Primary care, an essential determinant of health system equity, efficiency, and effectiveness, is threatened by inadequate supply and distribution of the provider workforce. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has been a frontrunner in the use of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). Evaluation of the roles and impact of NPs and PAs in the VHA is critical to ensuring optimal care for veterans and may inform best practices for use of PAs and NPs in other settings around the world. The purpose of this study was to characterize the use of NPs and PAs in VHA primary care and to examine whether their patients and patient care activities were, on average, less medically complex than those of physicians. METHODS: This is a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of administrative data from VHA primary care encounters between 2005 and 2010. Patient and patient encounter characteristics were compared across provider types (PA, NP, and physician). RESULTS: NPs and PAs attend about 30% of all VHA primary care encounters. NPs, PAs, and physicians fill similar roles in VHA primary care, but patients of PAs and NPs are slightly less complex than those of physicians, and PAs attend a higher proportion of visits for the purpose of determining eligibility for benefits. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that a highly successful nationwide primary care system relies on NPs and PAs to provide over one quarter of primary care visits, and that these visits are similar to those of physicians with regard to patient and encounter characteristics. These findings can inform health workforce solutions to physician shortages in the USA and around the world. Future research should compare the quality and costs associated with various combinations of providers and allocations of patient care work, and should elucidate the approaches that maximize quality and efficiency.Human Resources for Health 11/2012; 10(1):42. · 1.83 Impact FactorThis article is viewable in ResearchGate's enriched formatRG Format enables you to read in context with side-by-side figures, citations, and feedback from experts in your field.
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ABSTRACT: Health education provided to patients can reduce mortality and morbidity of chronic disease. Although some studies describe the provision of health education by physicians, few studies have examined how physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners differ in the provision of health education. The objective of our study was to evaluate the rate of health education provision by physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners/certified midwives. We analyzed 5 years of data (2005-2009) from the outpatient department subset of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. We abstracted data on 136,432 adult patient visits for the following chronic conditions: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and obesity. Health education was not routinely provided to patients who had a chronic condition. The percentage of patients who received education on their chronic condition ranged from 13.0% (patients with COPD or asthma who were provided education on smoking cessation by nurse practitioners) to 42.2% (patients with diabetes or obesity who were provided education on exercise by physician assistants). For all conditions assessed, rates of health education were higher among physician assistants and nurse practitioners than among physicians. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners provided health education to patients with chronic illness more regularly than did physicians, although none of the 3 types of clinicians routinely provided health education. Possible explanations include training differences, differing roles within a clinic by provider type, or increased clinical demands on physicians. More research is needed to understand the causes of these differences and potential opportunities to increase the delivery of condition-specific education to patients.Preventing chronic disease 03/2014; 11:E33. · 1.96 Impact Factor