Advanced practice providers (APPs) like nurse practitioners and physician assistants in urology practices are on the rise. However, the effect of APPs on expanding urology’s reach to new patients has yet to be determined. Researchers analyzed how APPs affected recent patient wait times at a selection of actual urology practices. An experiment was conducted in which research assistants posed as caregivers and called urology offices in the Chicago area to try to make an appointment for an elderly grandparent with severe hematuria. All needed was an available doctor or APP, and appointments were made with them. Negative binomial regressions were used to identify differences in appointment wait times, and descriptive measurements of clinic characteristics were reported. It was found that only 18 (or 22%) of the 86 offices we contacted about scheduling appointments actually allowed patients to schedule new patient appointments using APPs. Offices with APPs could provide shorter wait times than physician-only practices when patients request the earliest available appointment (10 days vs. 18 days; P=0.09). The average wait time for the 1st appointment with an APP was 5 days (compared to 15 days with a physician; P=0.04). Urology clinics increasingly use APPs but only allow them to perform limited tasks during initial consultations with new patients. This indicates that there may be untapped potential for increasing the number of new patients seen by offices with APPs. More research is needed to clarify the function of APPs in these departments and the most effective ways to use them.

Source: auajournals.org/doi/10.1097/UPJ.0000000000000333