The impact of nurse practitioner services on cost, quality of care, satisfaction and waiting times in the emergency department: a systematic review

Int J Nurs Stud. 2015 Jan;52(1):421-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2014.07.006. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

Abstract

Aims: To provide the best available evidence to determine the impact of nurse practitioner services on cost, quality of care, satisfaction and waiting times in the emergency department for adult patients.

Background: The delivery of quality care in the emergency department is emerging as one of the most important service indicators in health delivery. Increasing service pressures in the emergency department have resulted in the adoption of service innovation models: the most common and rapidly expanding of these is emergency nurse practitioner services. The rapid uptake of emergency nurse practitioner service in Australia has outpaced the capacity to evaluate this service model in terms of outcomes related to safety and quality of patient care. Previous research is now outdated and not commensurate with the changing domain of delivering emergency care with nurse practitioner services.

Data sources: A comprehensive search of four electronic databases from 2006 to 2013 was conducted to identify research evaluating nurse practitioner service impact in the emergency department. English language articles were sought using MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase and Cochrane and included two previous systematic reviews completed five and seven years ago.

Review methods: A three step approach was used. Following a comprehensive search, two reviewers assessed all identified studies against the inclusion criteria. From the original 1013 studies, 14 papers were retained for critical appraisal on methodological quality by two independent reviewers and data were extracted using standardised tools.

Results: Narrative synthesis was conducted to summarise and report the findings as insufficient data was available for meta-analysis of results. This systematic review has shown that emergency nurse practitioner service has a positive impact on quality of care, patient satisfaction and waiting times. There was insufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding outcomes of a cost benefit analysis.

Conclusion: Synthesis of the available research attempts to provide an evidence base for emergency nurse practitioner service to guide healthcare leaders, policy makers and clinicians in reform of emergency service provision. The findings suggest that further high quality research is required for comparative measures of clinical and service effectiveness of emergency nurse practitioner service. In the context of increased health service demand and the need to provide timely and effective care to patients, such measures will assist in evidence based health service planning.

Keywords: Emergency service; Nurse practitioners; Patient satisfaction; Quality of health care; Review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Nurse Practitioners*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Time and Motion Studies