Potential for physician associates to ease pressure on primary care [UK]
A study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and published in the British Journal of General Practice, showing no differences between PAs and MDs/DOs (general practitioners) regarding outcomes and costs.
"Researchers led by Professor Vari Drennan, from Kingston University and St George's University London, set out to look at evidence on their outcomes and costs for the first time in the UK.
They compared six practices where physician associates were employed with six similar practices that did not have associates.
The primary outcome of the study was whether patients had a re-consultation within 14 days for the same or linked problem. Secondary outcomes were processes of care.
The study authors found no difference between physician associate and GP consultations in the rate of investigations, referral to secondary care, prescriptions issued, or the rate of patient re-consultation for the same or a closely related problem within 14 days.
Patients reported high levels of satisfaction with both forms of consultations.
The average physician associate consultation was 5.8 minutes longer than with a GP, although costs per consultation were about £6 lower.
The researchers suggested physician associates had the 'potential to be an asset to the primary care workforce' in the face of shortages among the GP workforce, increasing demands and financial restraints."