Even though CNOs and hospital administrators are trying to prepare for the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), how healthcare reform will ultimately impact the entire healthcare community still remains uncertain. Hospitals will likely have to revamp their model of the ideal workforce to comply with accountable care requirements, and with nurses being vital to patient care, their role in the delivery of healthcare may change.
Overall, research regarding staffing best practices is still a developing science, and almost all of the research has focused on acute-care settings. During this time of transition, healthcare executives are being pulled in many directions, working furiously to improve care, engage employees and reduce costs. Yet, even with so many priorities needing attention, the healthcare industry will need to focus on gaining a better understanding how staffing decisions impact patient care.
In an article for Nursing Economic$, Jennifer Mensik, a registered nurse and a former administrator of nursing and patient care services, wrote that the framework of healthcare reform may impact nursing’s role in patient care. As care is delivered differently, with an increased focus on health and wellness within the entire community. The role of the nurses who deliver that care will also evolve. According to Mensik, nurses in all positions may be called on to provide additional care coordination to improve patient outcomes across the entire continuum of care, from hospitals to outpatient facilities to community settings. This transition will take some time to accomplish, and it will require us to rethink how nurses are trained, deployed and managed.
Most importantly, nurses will need to take an active role in making the transition. “To be successful with change, advancing nursing in an evolving world, all nurses need to be at the table to change healthcare delivery as we transform nursing,” Mensik wrote.
Getting all nurses involved
With nurses providing much of the day-to-day patient care, it stands to reason that nursing has a great impact on the overall delivery of patient care. That means that hospitals and health systems will only be able to achieve accountable care outcomes with nurse assistance. Research will then need to focus on different aspects of patient care, from examining what’s happening in the inpatient environment to outpatient and community settings. Nurse roles may be expanded as one way for organizations to support these changes, and nurse staffing levels in outpatient and community environments may rise for the sake of patient safety.
It’s clear that both staff nurses and nurse leaders need to be a part of the planning in order for healthcare reform to be truly successful. That begs the question – what does that involvement look like? What strategies have you used to get feedback from nursing, and what lessons have you learned?
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