Background: Accountable care organizations (ACOs) and the employment of nurse practitioners (NP) in place of physicians are strategies that aim to reduce the cost and improve the quality of routine care delivered in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The recent expansion of ACOs and nurse practitioners into SNF settings in the United States may be associated with improved health outcomes for patients.
Objectives: To determine the relationship between ACO attribution and NP care delivery during SNF visits and the relationship between NP care delivery during SNF visits and unplanned hospital readmissions.
Methods: We obtained a sample of 527,329 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with 1 or more SNF stays between 2012 and 2017. We used logistic regression to measure the association between patient ACO attribution and evaluation and management care delivered by NPs in addition to the relationship between evaluation and management services delivered by NPs and hospital readmissions.
Results: ACO beneficiaries were 1.26% points more likely to receive 1 or more E&M services delivered by an NP during their SNF visits [Marginal Effect (ME): 0.0126; 95% CI: (0.009, 0.0160)]. ACO-attributed beneficiaries receiving most of their E&M services from NPs during their SNF visits were at a lower risk of readmission than ACO-attributed beneficiaries receiving no NP E&M care (5.9% vs. 7.1%; P <0.001).
Conclusions: Greater participation by the NPs in care delivery in SNFs was associated with a reduced risk of patient readmission to hospitals. ACOs attributed beneficiaries were more likely to obtain the benefits of greater nurse practitioner involvement in their care.
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