8 Ways Nurse Practitioners Help Reduce Healthcare Costs

Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C

Nurse practitioners are a wonderful addition to the healthcare team—and I am not just saying that because I am one! Nurse practitioners bring much to the table regarding delivering high-quality, patient-centered care. This is achieved through applying evidence-based medicine to daily practice. They emphasize focusing on the entire person, not just one component of their health. They are trusting, team-oriented, and empathetic.

All of these factors not only make nurse practitioners great but also help lead to a reduction in healthcare costs which impacts the patient, community, and overall healthcare system. So how exactly do nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs? Below are 8 ways in which nurse practitioners successfully help reduce healthcare costs.



Nurse practitioners play a significant role in healthcare, including reducing healthcare costs. Below are 8 ways in which nurse practitioners successfully help reduce healthcare costs.

WAY #1: Nurse practitioners fill voids in primary care and in specialties that are impacted by the current physician shortage.

Nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs by filling voids in the healthcare system. There is currently a physician shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 by 2034 in primary care and specialty areas. And nurse practitioners can help fill this void by increasing access to high-quality healthcare. This will help reduce healthcare costs by increasing access to care, decreasing inappropriate usage of emergency departments, and improving compliance and health outcomes.

WAY #2: Nurse practitioners complete a cost effective education.

The education a nurse practitioner receives costs significantly less than a physician. Both degrees require an undergraduate degree before applying—an NP student will complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and a medical student may complete their undergraduate degree in various areas. The difference comes in their professional training. The average tuition for an NP student completing their master of science in nursing (MSN) is $81,810 to $185,280 compared to the average tuition of a student in medical school is $159,620 to $256,412. This is a significant difference in cost between the two degrees and less time as the average MSN NP program is 2-3 years, and medical school is 4 years.

WAY #3: Nurse practitioners receive a lower annual salary than physicians.

Another way nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs is by receiving a lower annual salary. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a nurse practitioner is $123,780 compared to a physician, whose annual salary, according to the BLS, is $223,410. And while multiple factors can impact the pay for physicians and NPs, such as specialty practiced, state of residence, and years of experience, on average, the NP's salary is $100,000 less than a physician's. In other words, nurse practitioners can work directly alongside a physician providing direct patient care, including prescribing medications, interpretation of test results, and initiating consults with other specialties for half the cost.

WAY #4: Nurse practitioners decrease emergency department visits.

Nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs through the reduction of emergency department visits. This may be due to many factors, including increasing access to healthcare in rural and urban settings. Inappropriate and recurrent emergency department visits for the same problem can significantly increase healthcare costs for the patient and facilities. Therefore, using NPs can help lower this cost through increased access, patient compliance, and improved health outcomes.

WAY #5: Nurse practitioners help meet the healthcare needs in rural communities.

As mentioned above, there is a current physician shortage in primary and specialty care, which is felt even more in rural communities. Due to barriers and lack of resources in rural communities, many residents wait to seek healthcare until they are very sick—leading to increased healthcare costs and poorer health outcomes.

That is where nurse practitioners come into play. In many states, NPs can practice independently of a physician, allowing them to open clinics and provide healthcare on their own. Many NPs are doing this in their rural communities or seeking out areas where healthcare is needed to increase access and health outcomes to decrease emergency department visits and improve quality of life.

WAY #6: Nurse practitioners help decrease hospitalizations.

Nurse practitioners play an active role in helping decrease patient hospitalizations. Through increasing access to healthcare in the outpatient setting, nurse practitioners play an active role in reducing hospitalizations of their patients. This is achieved through developing a trusting relationship with their patients, leading to increased compliance with the treatment plan and overall better health outcomes. If patients know they have a provider, they can turn to when they don't feel well and possibly initiate treatment sooner—most patients will seek their provider's recommendations sooner, leading to a decrease in the need for hospitalizations and an overall reduction in healthcare costs.

WAY #7: Nurse practitioners improve quality of care for chronic disease management leading to reduction in healthcare costs.

Nurse practitioners help improve the quality of care for chronic disease management, primarily in primary care. This is achieved by building trusting relationships with their patients, improving health outcomes, and reducing healthcare costs. In my practice, this has happened quite a few times. Most recently, it was a diabetic patient who has been resistant to taking medications, routinely checking hgb A1C, and following a low carb/low sugar diet. After seeing this patient for about a year, I started to build trust, and she began to get on board with taking medications and making small diet and exercise changes that greatly impacted her health. I am proud to say that she now has a high A1C under 7.5%, which she has not had in at least 10 years!

WAY #8: Nurse practitioners positively impact the care given to patients in long-term care facilities.

Nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs by positively impacting the care given to patients in long-term care facilities. More emphasis must be placed on caring for the aging population and improving their safety, overall health outcomes, and quality of life. There is a need for these providers right now, and nurse practitioners have been seen to start to meet this need—especially in primary care. By focusing on health promotion and safety in the aging population, specifically those in long-term care facilities, NPs are helping reduce healthcare costs to the general population and the healthcare system.


Did I answer the question of how nurse practitioners help reduce healthcare costs? Above, you read 8 ways nurse practitioners successfully help reduce healthcare costs. You can see that NPs reduce healthcare costs in numerous ways, including their education, salary, and form of practice—always striving to improve their patients' care and overall quality of life.

Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!