Improving Primary Care in Nursing Homes

Robert L Kane, Judith Garrard, Joan L. Buchanan, Alan Rosenfeld, Carol Skay, Susan McDermott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We conducted a quasi‐experiment to evaluate the impact of a Medicare waiver which allowed the use of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians assistants (PAs) to deliver primary care to Massachusetts nursing home patients and removed the limits on the reimbursable numbers of visits per month. A carefully matched set of 1,327 Medicaid patients from 95 non‐participating homes in the same areas of Massachusetts was compared to 1,324 Medicaid demonstration patients from 75 homes. Information came from specially designed record reviews and the Medicaid and Medicare information systems. Separate analyses were done for newly admitted cases and rollovers. Comparisons of quality of care suggested that the medical groups using NPs and PAs provided as good or better care than did the physicians in the control group. There were no differences in functional status changes or in the use of medications. The demonstration patients received more attention, as reflected in more orders written and an average of one additional visit a month. Demonstration patients showed higher scores on three of seven specially designed quality tracers, congestive heart failure and hypertension for both new admissions and rollovers, and new urinary incontinence for new admissions. Rollovers had significantly fewer emergency and total hospital days. A cost analysis suggests that the use of NPs and PAs saves at least as much as it costs and may save additional money with more sustained use. 1991 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991


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