Time spent with patients by physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in community health centers, 2006-2010.
BACKGROUND: As health systems struggle to meet access, cost and quality goals in the setting of increased demand, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are expected to help meet the need for care. The amount of time spent with each patient can affect the clinical productivity, quality of care, and satisfaction of patients and clinicians. This paper compares time spent per patient in community health centers by whether the provider is a physician, NP, or PA. METHODS: This paper uses National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) Community Health Center (CHC) data from 2006-2010. The NAMCS CHC strata is a national sample of CHCs, providers within CHCs, and patient visits to CHCs. Provider characteristics and variables related to time spent with patients across provider types were compared using t tests and chi square tests of association. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to compare time spent with patients, controlling for patient and visit characteristics. RESULTS: There were no differences in the number of visits by provider type, but PAs saw patients for a slightly larger portion of the week (3.8 days) than did physicians (3.5 days, p<0.05) or NPs (3.4 days, p<0.05). There were no statistical differences in the mean time spent per patient in the crude and adjusted analyses. CONCLUSIONS: Time spent per patient in CHCs is similar for physicians, NPs and PAs. This information may be useful to planners concerned with health system capacity and cost efficiency, and has implications for patient and provider satisfaction.
Morgan, P; Everett, CM; Hing, E
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