Proportion of visits delivered by nonphysicians varies across conditions, from 13.2 percent for eye disorders to 41.5 percent for respiratory infections
By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, Sept. 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The proportion of visits delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants increased from 2013 to 2019 in the United States, according to a study published online Sept. 14 in The BMJ.
Sadiq Y. Patel, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the proportion of health care visits that are delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants versus physicians using data from Medicare.
Overall, 276 million visits were included in the sample from Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2019. The researchers observed an increase in the proportion of all visits delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants in a year from 14.0 to 25.6 percent. Across conditions, there was variation noted in the proportion of visits delivered by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, ranging from 13.2 and 20.4 percent for eye disorders and hypertension, respectively, to 36.7 and 41.5 percent for anxiety disorders and respiratory infections, respectively. Overall, 41.9 percent of all patients with at least one visit in 2019 had one or more nurse practitioner and physician assistant visits. The likelihood of receiving care from nurse practitioners and physician assistants was greatest among patients who were lower-income, rural residents, and disabled (2.9, 19.7 and 5.6 percent greater, respectively).
“Our results highlight the rapidly growing involvement of nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the United States,” the authors write. “Future research is needed to understand the implications of this growth on the quality of care that Americans receive.”
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