As part of National Nurses Week the American Nurses Association is celebrating nurses’ contributions to healthcare through this year’s theme, “Nurses: Leading the Way,” which recognizes nurses as leaders at the bedside, in the boardroom, throughout communities and in the halls of government. On behalf of Nuance and the nurses that are part of our organization, we would like to express our gratitude to the 19.3 million nurses worldwide providing healthcare services (including 3.1 million registered nurses in the U.S).
The expanding roles of nurses in the redesign of healthcare cannot be underestimated as evidenced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which places nurses at the center of healthcare transformation in the U.S. With the evolution of new models of care delivery, global payment reform and prevention, the critical role of the nurse across the continuum of care is more evident than ever before. As the largest segment of the healthcare workforce, nurses have a central role in how healthcare is delivered and are increasingly taking on leadership roles in transforming nursing practice and advancing the health of the populations we serve.
Patients often recognize that a nurse is the healthcare professional with whom they and their families have the most direct contact, more than any other discipline. In designing and implementing new care delivery models, it is imperative that nurses assume a meaningful role as leaders and innovators. Today, nurses are leading initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, wellness, chronic disease management and care coordination among care providers and settings.
Nurses are also leading clinical documentation improvement (CDI) initiatives that ensure data integrity and clarity for effective population health management as analytics, risk stratification, and financial efficiency rely on a foundation of accurate and detailed clinical data to produce meaningful insights. These are areas in which nurses excel given their education and experience. As the ACA is fully implemented, nurses will lead efforts to expand primary care at community-based clinics and deliver more efficient and cost-effective care as part of collaborative healthcare teams across the continuum of care.
The intensifying impact of nurses is also reflected in the growing number of nurses moving into C-Suite and executive roles. With meaningful use and ACO transformations underway, nurses will continue to adopt key roles by harnessing proficiencies, which are the backbone of nursing practice. For example, meaningful use, value-based purchasing, accountable care and patient-centered medical homes share a common theme – care coordination and patient engagement. Patient and family engagement will be a key driver in reducing healthcare costs, improving outcomes and transforming healthcare, and nurses, as patient advocates, are key leaders vital to the evolution of patient engagement best practices and optimized care coordination.
Nurses are rapidly creating and expanding new job roles, such as nurse navigators, care coordinator specialists, and nurse wellness coaches, to help patients secure resources, obtain seamless comprehensive care, and develop healthy lifestyle practices. Research has shown that a more engaged patient is a healthier patient. Nurses can not only engage patients to take an active role in the management of their health, but also shape policy, procedures, processes and technology to support patient-centric, data-driven and outcomes-focused healthcare.
Nurses should take a leadership role in putting a population health management strategy in place to guarantee that patient activation is measured, technology for care coordination and patient engagement is leveraged, and best practices learned from other organizations and industries along the way is incorporated into the process to ensure success.
As we take a moment this week to celebrate nurses’ contributions to healthcare, it’s exciting to consider how opportunities for nurses have and will continue to evolve. From our healthcare family to yours, Happy Nurses Week!