Study Finds Decreased Risk of Hospitalization for Patients Who Receive Care from Nurse Practitioners
November 11, 2015 09:50 AM
According to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patients with diabetes who receive their primary care from Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are less likely to be hospitalized than patients who receive their primary care from physicians. The study compared potentially preventable hospitalizations among 345,819 Medicare beneficiaries with a diagnosis of diabetes in 2007-2010, who either received all of their primary care from NPs or all of their primary care from generalist physicians. For patients who received their primary care from NPs, the analyses found a 10% decrease in the risk of hospitalization for potentially preventable conditions. The study was published in Medical Care and authored by faculty from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
“These results may represent a valid finding of better outcomes from primary care delivered by nurse practitioners,” the authors of the study stated.
In a subsequent interview with Medscape Medical News, coauthor Mukaila A. Raji, MD, stated: “We find it surprising that the findings of lower rate of potentially avoidable hospitalization among Nurse Practitioners’ patients still hold true, despite use of multiple advanced analyses to adjust for complexity and severity of illnesses between diabetes patients cared for by Nurse Practitioners vs. MDs.”
“Nurse Practitioners will continue to play a key role in improving access to primary care for seniors living with diabetes, especially those living in rural and nonmetropolitan areas,” Dr. Raji added. “I anticipate Nurse Practitioners playing similar roles in addressing the primary-care gap for patients with other ambulatory sensitive conditions, such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.”
The findings from this study correspond with the recent nationwide survey conducted by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) regarding the use and impact of Non-Physician Practitioners (NPPs) in Medicare home health services. The purpose of that survey was to develop additional information that could be used in our advocacy to gain the right of NPPs to authorize Medicare-covered home health services. In the final report on the survey, NAHC concluded that permitting NPPs to authorize home health services will result in “significant improvements” to the quality and timeliness of patient care, as well as cost efficiencies in the Medicare program (see previous NAHC Report article herefor the full report).
Please use NAHC’s Legislative Action Center to contact your congressional delegation and request that they cosponsor the legislation allowing NPPs to certify Medicare home health plans of care.