Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
Physicians and nurses work closely together and must be held accountable to the highest level of care demonstrated through measureable patient outcomes.
The U.S. Supreme Court has made a decision that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional, paving the way for significant changes in healthcare. Regardless of your political, professional, or personal opinion on the Court's decision, it's very unlikely that the ACA will be repealed, even if the Republican Party takes control of the executive branch of government next year.
All of us have witnessed the devastation that can happen to patients and family members when care isn't appropriately rendered because they don't have the financial wherewithal to seek preventive medical care. This new law will give 30 to 40 million Americans the opportunity to be covered by health insurance, allowing them to be treated by licensed independent practitioners for preventive, acute, and chronic care. It's anticipated that our country's health will improve dramatically because the access to healthcare will be better for all.
Many business owners are concerned that the new laws stemming from the ACA will bankrupt them because they can't afford to pay insurance coverage for their employees. It's my contention that by providing access to appropriate healthcare, the workforce will be healthier, which will in turn save billions of dollars, improving the nation's financial prosperity.
One of the most important segments of this legislation is that the federal government will reimburse healthcare organizations based on the quality of care provided. Because it's evident that it takes a team approach to provide high-quality care, all healthcare providers will need to work in tandem and quickly resolve silos that impede continuity of care.
We've all known for a long time that the healthcare delivery system and financially reimbursed methods need to change. This is our opportunity to set the direction of healthcare as nurses are educationally prepared to care for patients throughout the health continuum. Systems need to be established that allow nurses the opportunity to assume key leadership positions in clinically integrated health systems and accountable care organizations. If we seize this opportunity, it will solidify the role of the professional nurse as the most essential focal point in the care delivery system.
How should nurses take on leading roles in the new healthcare delivery system? Ensure the highest level of quality based on science. Although many other healthcare practitioners also base their practice on science, the difference is that nurses will develop guidelines and protocols based on care delivered through the eyes of the patient.
Patients are often the forgotten contributor to preventing illness and promoting health. Nurses will need to make a sustained commitment to always deliver care that focuses on the unique needs of the patient and his or her family. Science alone isn't the answer; meeting the needs of the patient based on his or her own healthcare goals is just as paramount.
© 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.