Accountable care organizations (ACOs) could be a worthy alternative for nurses seeking to take on more care management roles and have greater interaction with patients
Working in a primary practice is different than a hospital setting. There is more opportunity to learn about the patient, make a one-on-one difference, teach them about their current illness and also build a relationship with family members, said Catherine Garner, a registered nurse and dean of Health Sciences and Nursing at American Sentinel University, in an email to SearchHealthIT.
The latter offers little chance to build a relationship because nurses in hospitals “see patients at their very sickest and only briefly,” Garner said . “They don’t have a chance to get to know the individual as a well-person and to really know their stories, their fears, and their hopes.” Hospital nurses also have a higher chance of working irregular hours.
The development of ACOs is a way for nurses to have the impact they would in a primary practice and, as a benefit to the patient, to become managers of care as well.
Through ACOs, officials hope to restructure the fee-for-service payment model so providers are incentivized to create better health outcomes.
Nurses could thrive in this model since they would be working in numerous facets of medical service and won’t be limited to a patient’s bedside. For example, a patient may only need a nurse to come in once per week to organize medicines, check blood pressure, ensure all meals are adequate and guarantee the home is conducive to ambulation and prevention of falls, Garner said.
Garner also stressed the movement toward telehealth monitoring, where it is a nurse who can detect early changes. They could either intervene or alert the physician that more action is needed.
The aforementioned examples highlight the active role a nurse can have. It also spells out more responsibility such as task and risk management.
And that’s why the growth of ACOs could spearhead more nurses to seek advanced education to better their leadership and management traits. “Nurses with education in case management of clients across the continuum of care will be in great demand,” Garner said.