Dillon EC, Erlich KJ, Li J, Li M, Becker DF., Am J Manag Care. 2020 Sep 1;26(9):e295-e299. doi: 10.37765/ajmc.2020.88495., 2020 Sep 01
Objectives: To determine the personnel costs and revenue generated by embedding a behavioral health nurse practitioner (BHNP) in primary care clinics to evaluate and manage adolescent behavioral health needs.
Study design: We estimated personnel costs and revenue from a quality improvement project undertaken at 4 clinic sites between August 1, 2016, and July 31, 2018, at a large multispecialty medical group in northern California.
Methods: Costs were estimated by identifying the actual hours spent by the BHNP and for medical assistant (MA) support and using Bureau of Labor Statistics national data on wages and benefits. Revenue was estimated by analyzing Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for BHNP visits from the Epic electronic health record and corresponding relative value units (RVUs), based on 135% of 2018 nationally unadjusted Medicare rates.
Results: We estimate 2-year revenue of $144,449 and personnel costs (salary + benefits) of $90,431. The BHNP work totaled 1083 hours, and MA support totaled 312 hours. Using a nurse practitioner wage of $53.70/hour and an MA wage of $16.95/hour, total salary costs were $63,451; we then added benefits costs. Using the CPT codes assigned to the 768 encounters with 207 unique patients, we estimated generation of 1640 RVUs and total revenue of $144,449.
Conclusions: This analysis found that personnel costs ($90,514) of a primary care-embedded BHNP are 63% of the potential revenue generated ($144,449). This analysis suggests that a primary care BHNP could be a cost-saving and patient-centered way to reduce the burden on primary care providers while meeting the growing needs of adolescents with behavioral health needs.