A study conducted by a Durham VA Health Care System has found that Veterans Affairs patients with diabetes have similar health outcomes, regardless of whether their care provider is a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.
Researchers examined the outcomes of more than 600,000 veterans with diabetes, a patient type that represents a large population within the VA, and who often have complex healthcare needs. Of the patients whose outcomes were studied, physicians were the usual provider for 77% of them, with the remaining patients under the care of a PA or NP. The researchers did not find any statistically significant differences in quality of care, nor any clinically important differences in patient outcomes, based on the discipline of the provider.
“Our study found that there were not clinically important differences in intermediate diabetes outcomes for patients with physicians, NPs, or PAs in both the usual and supplemental provider roles, providing additional evidence for the role of NPs and PAs as primary care providers,” said Dr. George Jackson, a research health scientist with the Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) at the Durham VA Medical Center and author of the study.
A news release from the VA regarding the study goes on to state, “The fact that PAs and NPs had similar results for quality of care without sharing care with a physician suggests that using these providers in primary care may improve the efficiency of health care.”
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