The effectiveness of substitution of hospital ward care from medical doctors to physician assistants: a study protocol.
ABSTRACT: Because of an expected shrinking supply of medical doctors for hospitalist posts, an increased emphasis on efficiency and continuity of care, and the standardization of many medical procedures, the role of hospitalist is increasingly allocated to physician assistants (PAs). PAs are nonphysician clinicians with medical tasks. This study aims to evaluate the effects of substitution of hospital ward care to PAs.In a multicenter matched controlled study, the traditional model in which the role of hospitalist is taken solely by medical doctors (MD model) is compared with a mixed model in which a PA functions as a hospitalist, contingent with MDs (PA/MD model). Twenty intervention and twenty control wards are included across The Netherlands, from a range of medical specialisms. Primary outcome measure is patients' length of hospital stay. Secondary outcomes include indicators for quality of hospital ward care, patients experiences with medical ward care, patients health-related quality of life, and healthcare providers' experiences. An economic evaluation is conducted to assess the cost implications and potential efficiency of the PA/MD model. For most measures, data is collected from medical records or questionnaires in samples of 115 patients per hospital ward. Semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals are conducted to identify determinants of efficiency, quality and continuity of care and barriers and facilitators for the implementation of PAs in the role of hospitalist.Findings from this study will help to further define the role of nonphysician clinicians and provides possible key components for the implementation of PAs in hospital ward care. Like in many studies of organizational change, random allocation to study arms is not feasible, which implies an increased risk for confounding. A major challenge is to deal with the heterogeneity of patients and hospital departments.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To investigate the cost-effectiveness of substitution of inpatient care from medical doctors (MDs) to physician assistants (PAs). DESIGN:Cost-effectiveness analysis embedded within a multicentre, matched-controlled study. The traditional model in which only MDs are employed for inpatient care (MD model) was compared with a mixed model in which, besides MDs, PAs are also employed (PA/MD model). SETTING:34 hospital wards across the Netherlands. PARTICIPANTS:2292 patients were followed from admission until 1?month after discharge. Patients receiving daycare, terminally ill patients and children were excluded. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES:All direct healthcare costs from day of admission until 1?month after discharge. Health outcome concerned quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), which was measured with the EuroQol five dimensions questionnaire (EQ-5D). RESULTS:We found no significant difference for QALY gain (+0.02, 95%?CI -0.01 to 0.05) when comparing the PA/MD model with the MD model. Total costs per patient did not significantly differ between the groups (+€568, 95%?CI -€254 to €1391, p=0.175). Regarding the costs per item, a difference of €309 per patient (95%?CI €29 to €588, p=0.030) was found in favour of the MD model regarding length of stay. Personnel costs per patient for the provider who is primarily responsible for medical care on the ward were lower on the wards in the PA/MD model (-€11, 95%?CI -€16 to -€6, p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS:This study suggests that the cost-effectiveness on wards managed by PAs, in collaboration with MDs, is similar to the care on wards with traditional house staffing. The involvement of PAs may reduce personnel costs, but not overall healthcare costs. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:NCT01835444.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: To assess applicability of national health survey data for generalizable research on outpatient care by physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). DATA SOURCES: Methodology descriptions and 2003 data files from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and the Community Tracking Study. STUDY DESIGN: Surveys were assessed for utility for research on PA and NP patient care, with respect to survey coverage, structure, content, generalizability to the U.S. population, and validity. National estimates of patient encounters, statistically adjusted for survey design and nonresponse, were compared across surveys. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: Surveys were identified through literature review, selected according to inclusion criteria, and analyzed based on methodology descriptions. Quantitative analyses used publicly available data downloaded from survey websites. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Surveys varied with respect to applicability to PA and NP care. Features limiting applicability included (1) sampling schemes that inconsistently capture nonphysician practice, (2) inaccurate identification of provider type, and (3) data structure that does not support analysis of team practice. CONCLUSIONS: Researchers using national health care surveys to analyze PA and NP patient interactions should account for design features that may differentially affect nonphysician data. Workforce research that includes NPs and PAs is needed for national planning efforts, and this research will require improved survey methodologies.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>To investigate the deployment of physician associates (PAs); the factors supporting and inhibiting their employment and their contribution and impact on patients' experience and outcomes and the organisation of services.<h4>Design</h4>Mixed methods within a case study design, using interviews, observations, work diaries and documentary analysis.<h4>Setting</h4>Six acute care hospitals in three regions of England in 2016-2017.<h4>Participants</h4>43 PAs, 77 other health professionals, 28 managers, 28 patients and relatives.<h4>Results</h4>A key influencing factor supporting the employment of PAs in all settings was a shortage of doctors. PAs were found to be acceptable, appropriate and safe members of the medical/surgical teams by the majority of doctors, managers and nurses. They were mainly deployed to undertake inpatient ward work in the medical/surgical team during core weekday hours. They were reported to positively contribute to: continuity within their medical/surgical team, patient experience and flow, inducting new junior doctors, supporting the medical/surgical teams' workload, which released doctors for more complex patients and their training. The lack of regulation and attendant lack of authority to prescribe was seen as a problem in many but not all specialties. The contribution of PAs to productivity and patient outcomes was not quantifiable separately from other members of the team and wider service organisation. Patients and relatives described PAs positively but most did not understand who and what a PA was, often mistaking them for doctors.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This study offers new insights concerning the deployment and contribution of PAs in medical and surgical specialties in English hospitals. PAs provided a flexible addition to the secondary care workforce without drawing from existing professions. Their utility in the hospital setting is unlikely to be completely realised without the appropriate level of regulation and authority to prescribe medicines and order ionising radiation within their scope of practice.
Project description:Medical care for admitted patients in hospitals is increasingly reallocated to physician assistants (PAs). There is limited evidence about the consequences for the quality and safety of care. This study aimed to determine the effects of substitution of inpatient care from medical doctors (MDs) to PAs on patients' length of stay (LOS), quality and safety of care, and patient experiences with the provided care.In a multicenter matched-controlled study, the traditional model in which only MDs are employed for inpatient care (MD model) was compared with a mixed model in which besides MDs also PAs are employed (PA/MD model). Thirty-four wards were recruited across the Netherlands. Patients were followed from admission till one month after discharge. Primary outcome measure was patients' LOS. Secondary outcomes concerned eleven indicators for quality and safety of inpatient care and patients' experiences with the provided care.Data on 2,307 patients from 34 hospital wards was available. The involvement of PAs was not significantly associated with LOS (? 1.20, 95%CI 0.99-1.40, p = .062). None of the indicators for quality and safety of care were different between study arms. However, the involvement of PAs was associated with better experiences of patients (? 0.49, 95% CI 0.22-0.76, p = .001).This study did not find differences regarding LOS and quality of care between wards on which PAs, in collaboration with MDs, provided medical care for the admitted patients, and wards on which only MDs provided medical care. Employing PAs seems to be safe and seems to lead to better patient experiences.ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01835444.
Project description:Importance:The working schedules of hospitalists vary widely. Discontinuous schedules, such as 24 hours on and 48 hours off, result in several hospitalists providing care during a patient's hospital stay. Poor continuity of care during hospitalization may be associated with poor patient outcomes. Objective:To determine whether admitted patients receiving care from hospitalists with more discontinuous schedules experience worse outcomes. Design, Setting, and Participants:This retrospective cohort study used conditional models to assess Medicare claims data for 114?777 medical admissions of patients with a 3-day to 6-day length of stay from January 1, 2014, through November 30, 2016, who received all general medical care from hospitalists in 229 hospitals in Texas. Data were analyzed from November 2018 to June 2019. Exposures:For each admission, the weighted mean of schedule continuity for the treating hospitalists, assessed as the percentage of all their working days in that year that were part of a block of 7 or more consecutive working days, was calculated. Main Outcomes and Measures:The primary outcome was patient mortality in the 30 days after discharge. Secondary outcomes were readmission rates and Medicare costs in the 30 days after discharge, and discharge destination. Results:Of the 114?777 patient admissions, the mean (SD) age was 79.9 (8.3) years, and 70?047 (61.0%) were women. For admissions in the lowest quartile for continuity of hospitalist schedules, the hospitalists providing care worked 0% to 30% of their total working days as part of a block of 7 or more consecutive days vs 67% to 100% for hospitalists providing care for patients in the highest quartile for continuity. Patient characteristics were not associated with the continuity of working schedules for the hospitalist(s) providing care. In conditional logistic regression models, admitted patients cared for by hospitalists in the highest quartile of schedule continuity (vs the lowest quartile) had lower 30-day mortality after discharge (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.88; 95% CI, 0.81-0.95), lower readmission rates (aOR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90-0.99), higher rates of discharge to the home (aOR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.03-1.13), and lower 30-day postdischarge costs (-$223; 95% CI, -$441 to -$7). The results were similar across a range of different methods for defining continuity of hospitalist schedules and selecting the cohort. Conclusions and Relevance:Hospitalist schedules vary widely. Admitted patients receiving care from hospitalists with schedules that promote inpatient continuity of care may experience better outcomes of hospitalization.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The postdischarge period is a vulnerable time for patients, with high rates of adverse events that may cause unnecessary readmissions, especially in the elderly. Because postdischarge care continuity is often interrupted after hospitalist care, close follow-up may decrease patient readmission. In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of a quality improvement program, integrated postdischarge transitional care (PDTC), in Taiwan's hospitalist system. METHODS: From December 2009 to May 2010, patients admitted to the hospitalist ward of a medical center in Taiwan and later discharged alive to home care were included. Efforts to improve the quality of interventions in the PDTC program, including a disease-specific care plan, telephone monitoring, hotline counseling and referral to a hospitalist-run clinic, were implemented in the latter four months in the intervention group, while the control group was recruited during the first two months of the study period. The primary end point was unplanned readmission or death within 30 days after discharge. RESULTS: There were 94 and 219 patients in the control and intervention groups, respectively. Both groups had similar characteristics at the time of admission and at discharge. In the intervention group, 18 patients with worsening disease-specific indicators recorded during telephone monitoring and 21 patients with new or worsening symptoms recorded during hotline counseling had higher rates of unplanned readmission than those without worsening disease-specific indicators (P = 0.031) and worsening symptoms (P = 0.019), respectively. Patients who received PDTC had lower rates of readmission and death than the control group within 30 days after discharge (15% vs. 25%; P = 0.021). Nonuse of a hospitalist-run clinic and presence of underlying malignancy were other independent risk factors for readmission and death within 30 days after discharge. CONCLUSION: Integrated PDTC using disease-specific care, telephone monitoring, hotline counseling and a hospitalist-run clinic can reduce rates of postdischarge readmission and death.
Project description:ICUs are increasingly staffed with nurse practitioners/physician assistants (NPs/PAs), but it is unclear how NPs/PAs influence quality of care. We examined the association between NP/PA staffing and in-hospital mortality for patients in the ICU.We used retrospective cohort data from the 2009 to 2010 APACHE (Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation) clinical information system and an ICU-level survey. We included patients aged ≥ 17 years admitted to one of 29 adult medical and mixed medical/surgical ICUs in 22 US hospitals. Because this survey could not assign NPs/PAs to individual patients, the primary exposure was admission to an ICU where NPs/PAs participated in patient care. The primary outcome was patient-level in-hospital mortality. We used multivariable relative risk regression to examine the effect of NPs/PAs on in-hospital mortality, accounting for differences in case mix, ICU characteristics, and clustering of patients within ICUs. We also examined this relationship in the following subgroups: patients on mechanical ventilation, patients with the highest quartile of Acute Physiology Score (> 55), and ICUs with low-intensity physician staffing and with physician trainees.Twenty-one ICUs (72.4%) reported NP/PA participation in direct patient care. Patients in ICUs with NPs/PAs had lower mean Acute Physiology Scores (42.4 vs 46.7, P < .001) and mechanical ventilation rates (38.8% vs 44.2%, P < .001) than ICUs without NPs/PAs. Unadjusted and risk-adjusted mortality was similar between groups (adjusted relative risk, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.92-1.31). This result was consistent in all examined subgroups.NPs/PAs appear to be a safe adjunct to the ICU team. The findings support NP/PA management of critically ill patients.
Project description:BACKGROUND:To meet the complex needs of healthcare delivery, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) introduced Physician Assistants (PAs) into the Ontario health care system in 2006 with the goal of helping to increase access to care, decrease wait times, improve continuity of care and provide a flexible addition to the healthcare workforce. The characterization of healthcare organizations as complex adaptive systems (CAS) may offer insight into the relationships and interactions that optimize and restrict successful PA integration. The aim of this study is to explore the integration of PAs across multiple case settings and to understand the role of PAs within complex adaptive systems. METHODS:An exploratory, multiple-case study was used to examine PA role integration in four settings: family medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, and inpatient medicine. Interviews were conducted with 46 healthcare providers and administrators across 13 hospitals and 6 family medicine clinics in Ontario, Canada. Analysis was conducted in three phases including an inductive thematic analysis within each of the four cases, a cross-case thematic analysis, and a broader, deductive exploration of cross-case patterns pertaining to specific complexity theory principles of interest. RESULTS:Forty-six health care providers were interviewed across 19 different healthcare sites. Support for PA contributions across various health care settings, the importance of role awareness, supervisory relationship attributes, and role vulnerability are interconnected and dynamic. Findings represent the experiences of PAs and other healthcare providers, and demonstrate how the PAs willingness to work and ability to build relationships allows for the establishment of interprofessional, collaborative, and person-centered care. As a self-organizing agent in complex adaptive systems (i.e., health organizations), PA role exploration revealed patterns of team behavior, non-linear interconnections, open relationships, dynamic systems, and the legacy of role implementation as defined by complexity theory. CONCLUSIONS:By exploring the role of PAs across multiple sites, the complexity theory lens concurrently fosters an awareness of emerging patterns, relationships and non-linear interactions within the defined context of the Ontario healthcare system. By establishing collaborative, interprofessional care models in hospital and community settings, PAs are making a significant contribution to Ontario healthcare settings.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Physician assistants/associates (PAs) are a recent innovation in acute hospital teams in England and many other countries worldwide. Although existing evidence indicates generally high levels of patient satisfaction with their PA hospital encounters, little is known about the factors associated with this outcome. There is a lack of evidence on the process of PA-patient communication in hospital encounters and how this might influence satisfaction. This study therefore aimed to understand patients' satisfaction with PA acute hospital encounters through PA-patient communication experiences. METHODS:A qualitative study was conducted among patients and representatives of patients seen by or receiving care from one of the PAs working in acute hospital services in England. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken face-to-face with study participants in the hospital setting and shortly after their PA encounter. Data were coded and analysed using thematic analysis. The study was framed within a theoretical model of core functions of medical encounter communication. RESULTS:Fifteen patients and patient representatives who had experienced a PA encounter participated in interviews, across five hospitals in England. Four interrelated communication experiences were important to participants who were satisfied with the encounter in general: feeling trust and confidence in the relationship, sharing relevant and meaningful information, experiencing emotional care and support, and sharing discussion on illness management and treatment. However, many participants misconceived PAs to be doctors, raising a potential risk of reduced trust in the PA relationship and negative implications for satisfaction with their PA encounter. Participants considered it beneficial that patients be informed about the PA role to prevent confusion. CONCLUSIONS:PA encounters offer a constructive example of successful clinician-patient communication experiences in acute hospital encounters from the patient's perspective. Study participants were generally naïve to the PA role. Hospital services and organisations introducing these mid-level or advanced care practitioner roles should consider giving attention to informing patients about the roles.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To appraise and synthesise research on the impact of physician assistants/associates (PA) in secondary care, specifically acute internal medicine, care of the elderly, emergency medicine, trauma and orthopaedics, and mental health. DESIGN:Systematic review. SETTING:Electronic databases (Medline, Embase, ASSIA, CINAHL, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, Social Policy and Practice, EconLit and Cochrane), reference lists and related articles. INCLUDED ARTICLES:Peer-reviewed articles of any study design, published in English, 1995-2017. INTERVENTIONS:Blinded parallel processes were used to screen abstracts and full text, data extractions and quality assessments against published guidelines. A narrative synthesis was undertaken. OUTCOME MEASURES:Impact on: patients' experiences and outcomes, service organisation, working practices, other professional groups and costs. RESULTS:5472 references were identified and 161 read in full; 16 were included-emergency medicine (7), trauma and orthopaedics (6), acute internal medicine (2), mental health (1) and care of the elderly (0). All studies were observational, with variable methodological quality. In emergency medicine and in trauma and orthopaedics, when PAs are added to teams, reduced waiting and process times, lower charges, equivalent readmission rate and good acceptability to staff and patients are reported. Analgesia prescribing, operative complications and mortality outcomes were variable. In internal medicine outcomes of care provided by PAs and doctors were equivalent. CONCLUSIONS:PAs have been deployed to increase the capacity of a team, enabling gains in waiting time, throughput, continuity and medical cover. When PAs were compared with medical staff, reassuringly there was little or no negative effect on health outcomes or cost. The difficulty of attributing cause and effect in complex systems where work is organised in teams is highlighted. Further rigorous evaluation is required to address the complexity of the PA role, reporting on more than one setting, and including comparison between PAs and roles for which they are substituting. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER:CRD42016032895.