Nurse-led treatment ‘cost-effective’ in children with eczema
MedWire News: Eczema care provided to children by a nurse practitioner is associated with lower costs than care given by a dermatologist, researchers report.
In a previous randomized controlled trial, Marie-Louise Schuttelaar and colleagues, from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, demonstrated that substituting dermatologists with nurse practitioners resulted in similar eczema treatment outcomes for children in terms of disease severity, quality of life, and improved patient satisfaction.
In the current study, Schuttelaar and team compared the various costs associated with treatment by dermatologists versus nurses using data from their original trial.
Specifically, the authors analyzed 1-year data for 160 patients aged 16 years or younger who were newly diagnosed with eczema and were randomly assigned to receive care from a dermatologist or a nurse.
As reported in the British Journal of Dermatology, when children were treated by nurse rather than a dermatologist, the annual health costs and family costs reduced by approximately US$ 208 (€ 144) and US$ 445 (€ 307), while costs in other sectors increased by US$ 29 (€ 20).
This means that for every 1-point reduction in the Infants' Dermatitis Quality of Life Index, treatment by nurses reduced costs by US$ 1343 (€927), compared with treatment by dermatologists, report the researchers.
"Our results clearly showed that substituting dermatologists with nurse practitioners in the treatment of eczema in children provides savings in both healthcare costs and family costs," say Schuttelaar et al.
The authors add, however, that "it should be considered that time investment by the nurse practitioner was almost twice that by the dermatologist, which may lead to lower productivity."
They conclude that, given similar quality of life and severity outcomes, "higher satisfaction with care and cost-savings are sufficient criteria to prefer nurse practitioners in the treatment of children with eczema."
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By Philip Ford