Purpose: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of case management by a nurse practitioner (NP) to lower blood lipids in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) from a managed care perspective.
Data sources: A total of 228 consecutive, eligible adults with hypercholesterolemia and CHD were recruited during hospitalization after coronary revascularization. Patients were randomized to receive lipid management, including individualized lifestyle modification and pharmacologic intervention from an NP for 1 year after discharge in addition to their usual care (NURS) or to receive usual care (EUC) enhanced with feedback on lipids to their primary provider and/or cardiologist. A cost-effectiveness ratio was calculated using incremental costs of the NURS group per unit change and percent change in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) for 1 year at 2004 values.
Conclusions: The annual incremental cost-effectiveness of NP case management was $26.03 per mg/dL and $39.05 per percent reduction in LDL-C. When costs of NURS care for the second 6 months of management were compared to the first 6 months of management, nursing salary costs were lower as patients were established on cholesterol management regimens, but the reduction in costs was offset by the increase in incremental costs of drug treatment as the NP titrated the patient to higher drug dosages that were more costly.
Implications for practice: The findings suggest that case management by an NP is a cost-effective approach for a managed care organization to consider in improving the care of patients with cardiovascular disease.