Blog Post

Infusion center insights: More centers hiring APs for capacity edge

March 8, 2016

    Cancer programs are increasingly using advanced practitioners (APs) to help extend capacity. To find out how many and which types of APs cancer program leaders employ in their infusion center, we collected data from over 250 infusion centers and found that nearly 40% of respondents currently employ advanced practitioners in their infusion centers.

    Use of APs has grown since 2011

    38% of respondents indicated that they employ advanced practitioners (APs) within their infusion center. This is over a 30% increase from our 2011 survey, in which only 29% of infusion centers employed APs. This rise indicates that cancer programs are increasingly employing APs as a strategy to provide supervision and consequently increase capacity within their infusion centers. In fact, 43% of respondents indicated that they use APs to provide supervision for outpatient chemotherapy.

    Nurse practitioners the most common AP in infusion centers

    Among the respondents employing APs, over 75% employ only nurse practitioners (NPs). In contrast, 14% employ at least one nurse practitioner and one physician assistant (PA) and only 11% exclusively employ physician assistants.

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    Most infusion centers have only one advanced practitioner

    Among the 38% of infusion centers that employ APs, few employ more than one AP. We analyzed the median number of advanced practitioners employed by organization size, which we categorized based on the number of analytic cases treated in 2014. The median number of advanced practitioners stays constant at 1.0 until the organization treats more than 5,000 analytic cases per year, at which point the median number of employed APs is 2.0.

    This is also an increase from 2011, when only organizations treating more than 1,912 analytic cases employed any advanced practitioners.

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    Breaking down patient volumes per day per AP: PAs have higher daily patient caseloads

    Infusion centers that employ both physician assistants and nurse practitioners treat a median of 17 patients per day per AP. Infusion centers that employ only nurse practitioners treat a median of 30 patients per day per nurse practitioner.

    Interestingly, infusion centers that employ only physician assistants have a much higher patient to practitioner ratio with 56 patients treated in the infusion center per day per physician assistant. It is unclear if the large discrepancy between the three groups is due to the relatively small sample size or differences in the way infusion centers deploy PAs and NPs.

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