The involvement of physician assistants in inpatient care in hospitals in the Netherlands: a cost-effectiveness analysis
SourceBMJ Open, 7, 7, (2017), article e016405
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
SubjectRadboudumc 16: Vascular damage RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
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 (+euro568, 95% CI -euro254 to euro1391, p=0.175). Regarding the costs per item, a difference of euro309 per patient (95% CI euro29 to euro588, 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 (-euro11, 95% CI -euro16 to -euro6, 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.
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