Lifesaving APPs (Advanced Practice Providers)

A recent study (EB Tapper et al. Hepatology 2020; 71: 225-34, editorial 11-13) shows that advanced practice providers (APPs) provide care that translates into better outcomes for adults with cirrhosis.  APPs include physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

In a retrospective analysis (2001-15) of the Optum Clinformatics database (private insurance) with 389,257 adult patients, the authors show that patients who had an APP involved in their care had better outcomes.

Key findings among patients with APP care (with and without specialist involvement):

  • Reduced risk of death, aHR 0.43
  • Improved metrics: higher HCC screening aOR 1.23, higher variceal screening OR 1.20, increased use of rifaximin after discharge for HE OR 2.09, and reduced risk of hospital 30-day readmission OR 0.68.
  • Overall, AAP care alone was inferior to specialist care alone for all metrics except 30-day readmissions; however, shared care (APP and specialist care) was more successful than specialist care alone (eg. 30-day readmissions OR 0.91 with shared care)
  • APP involvement was associated with an almost 2-fold increase in costs per person per year (~$9600 compared to $4500) and increased procedures
  • Due to the retrospective nature, it is unclear how many of the APPs had specialty training; as such, it is not clear whether primary care APP involvement is equivalent to specialty care APP involvement

My take: Based on my experience, this study likely could be replicated in most medical fields.  APPS improve patient outcomes.

Island Ford National Recreational Area, Sandy Springs