Practice patterns and patient-reported outcomes of care are compared in detail for ten physicians and 12 new health practitioners delivering ambulatory care in two departments of a prepaid group practice, the Columbia Medical Plan (CMP). All providers completed questionnaires for a 50 per cent random sample of patients seen during a two-week period. Patients completed questionnaires prior to receiving care and were interviewed one week and one month after their clinic visits. New health practitioners deliver approximately 75 per cent of well-person care, 56 per cent of problem-oriented care in adult medicine, and 29 per cent of problem care in pediatrics. They have become increasingly involved over time in the treatment of acute conditions and injuries while physicians have retained their predominant role in treating patients with chronic conditions. Thirty-two per cent of visits with new health providers involved a physician in one or more of the following: decision-making, direct supervision, consultation, or seeing the patient as a second provider of care. Degree of autonomy varied by type of task performed, category of problem treated, and specialty. The following outcomes of care were examined by type of provider: patient- reported change in problem status, including frequency and intensity of pain or discomfort, level of anxiety, and degree of activity limitation; the degree to which physician-specified criteria for the most commonly occurring conditions were met with respect to change in problem status; and patient satisfaction with a number of dimensions of the clinic visit. The analysis suggests that the new health practitioners at the CMP are providing care, within their areas of responsibility, of comparable quality to that delivered by physician.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health