Improved availability and quality of care with epilepsy nurse practitioners

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Abstract

Background:

This study investigated the quality of care delivered by nurse practitioner (NP)–physician teams employed to expand clinic appointment availability for patients with epilepsy.

Methods:

We performed a retrospective observational cohort study of patients with epilepsy presenting to the Penn Epilepsy Center for a new patient appointment in 2014. During this time, patients were seen either by an NP–physician team care model or a more traditional physician-only care model. These care models were compared with regard to adherence to the 2014 American Academy of Neurology epilepsy quality measures at the initial visit. Clinical outcomes of seizure frequency, presentations to the Emergency Department, injury, and death were assessed over the subsequent year.

Results:

A total of 169 patients were identified by our inclusion and exclusion criteria: 65 patients in the NP–physician team care model cohort and 104 patients in the physician-only care model cohort. The NP–physician team care model saw, on average, 3 more patients per clinic session. There were no meaningful differences between these cohorts in baseline characteristics. The NP–physician team care model showed equivalent adherence to the physician-only care model for the epilepsy quality measures, with superior adherence to the counseling measures of querying for side effects, provision of personalized epilepsy safety education, and screening for behavioral health disorders. The 2 care models performed similarly in all clinical outcomes.

Conclusions:

An NP–physician team care model employed to increase availability of care could also improve quality of care delivered.

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