Community health centers employ diverse staffing patterns, which can provide productivity lessons for medical practices

Leighton Ku, Bianca K. Frogner, Erika Steinmetz, Patricia Pittman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Community health centers are at the forefront of ambulatory care practices in their use of nonphysician clinicians and team-based primary care. We examined medical staffing patterns, the contributions of different types of staff to productivity, and the factors associated with staffing at community health centers across the United States. We identified four different staffing patterns: typical, high advanced-practice staff, high nursing staff, and high other medical staff. Overall, productivity per staff person was similar across the four staffing patterns. We found that physicians make the greatest contributions to productivity, but advanced-practice staff, nurses, and other medical staff also contribute. Patterns of community health center staffing are driven by numerous factors, including the concentration of clinicians in communities, nurse practitioner scope-of-practice laws, and patient characteristics such as insurance status. Our findings suggest that other group medical practices could incorporate more nonphysician staff without sacrificing productivity and thus profitability. However, the new staffing patterns that evolve may be affected by characteristics of the practice location or the types of patients served.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)95-103
    Number of pages9
    JournalHealth Affairs
    Volume34
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health Policy

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