The quality of primary care provided by nurse practitioners to vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries

Catherine M. DesRoches, Sean Clarke, Jennifer Perloff, Monica O'Reilly-Jacob, Peter Buerhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Studies suggest nurse practitioners are heavily represented among primary care providers for vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries. Purpose The purpose of this study was to compare quality indicators among three groups of vulnerable beneficiaries managed by MDs and nurse practitioners (NPs). Methods The methods include retrospective cohort design examining 2012 and 2013 Medicare claims for three beneficiary groups: (a) initially qualified for the program due to disability, (b) dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and (c) both disabled and dually eligible. Validated quality indicators in four domains were analyzed. Discussion Gaps in outcomes suggest better performance for primary care nurse practitioners (PCNPs) in preventable hospitalizations and adverse outcomes. Outcome gaps suggesting better performance for primary care physicians in chronic disease management were diminished for beneficiaries who were both disabled and dually eligible suggesting improved performance for PCNPs within this subpopulation. Conclusion These findings add new evidence indicating the quality of primary care provided to vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries by PCNPs is generally consistent with clinical guidelines and the less intensive use of costly health care services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-688
Number of pages10
JournalNursing outlook
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Disability
  • Dually-eligible
  • Medicare
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Quality of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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