An Innovative Approach to Providing Patient Care: Examining the Role of the Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care Group Medical Visits

As the Canadian population ages, primary health care has increased its focus on the prevention and management of chronic disease in the elderly. However, access to primary care providers such as family doctors has become more difficult in recent years. Consequently, nurse practitioners (NPs) are increasingly delivering primary health services for people with chronic disease through what’s called the group medical visit (GMV). GMVs are a model of care delivery in which primary care is offered in a group format, instead of single patient/provider format. GMVs are being implemented across BC as part of the practice support program aimed at improving the primary health care system in the province. Past work indicates that patients and providers of GMVs are satisfied with GMVs. However, research on their effectiveness is limited. Laura Housden is examining the role of NPs in providing GMVs in BC and whether or not the GMV format is associated with quality patient care, such as patient self management of disease and chronic disease health indicators. To that end, she is conducting in-depth interviews with NPs currently providing GMVs. Direct observation of GMVs will be undertaken to better understand the process of the visit and context of the appointments. Chart audits will also be done to determine quality of care. The results of Ms. Housden’s research will provide a greater understanding of the role of NPs in providing GMVs, as well as the effectiveness of this care model in reaching and caring for people with chronic illnesses. Ultimately, this information could help to inform public health policy in BC.