Primary Care Practice Transformation Introduces Different Staff Roles
Purpose. Practices in the 4-year Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative changed staffing patterns during 2012-2016 to improve care delivery. We sought to characterize these changes and to compare practice patterns with those in similar non-CPC practices in 2016.
Methods. We conducted an online survey among selected US primary care practices. We statistically tested 2012-2016 changes in practice-reported staff composition among 461 CPC practices using 2-tailed t tests. Using logistic regression analysis, we compared differences in staff types between the CPC practices and 358 comparison practices that participated in the survey in 2016.
Results. In 2012, most CPC practices reported having physicians (100%), administrative staff (99%), and medical assistants (90%). By 2016, 84% reported having care managers/care coordinators (up from 24% in 2012), and 29% reported having behavioral health professionals, clinical psychologists, or social workers (up from 19% in 2014). There were also smaller increases (of less than 10 percentage points) in the share of practices having pharmacists, nutritionists, registered nurses, quality improvement specialists, and health educators. Larger and system-affiliated practices were more likely to report having care managers/care coordinators and behavioral health professionals. In 2016, relative to comparison practices, CPC practices were more likely to report having various staff types—notably, care managers/care coordinators (84% of CPC vs 36% of comparison practices), behavioral health professionals (29% vs 12%), and pharmacists (18% vs 4%).
Conclusions. During the CPC initiative, CPC practices added different staff types to a fairly traditional staffing model of physicians with medical assistants. They most commonly added care managers/care coordinators and behavioral health staff to support the CPC model and, at the end of CPC, were more likely to have these staff members than comparison practices.