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The Future of Nursing is Up for Debate

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, October 20, 2009

One of the issues being considered is the economic approach to the value of nursing care. "How would you bill for nurses to spend time with patients?" asks Chow. "If we don't do anything, the alternative is to continue in the current model where all human aspects are really done in spare time."

Chow proposes four concepts that will drive change in nursing:

  1. Leveraging the power of the electronic health record
  2. Balancing technology, business models, and human needs
  3. Using rapid translation teams
  4. Using rapid design teams

The last two categories concern the need to create new models and ideas for healthcare delivery, and she says they need to include people outside of healthcare, such as engineers and ethnographers, who can provide alternative ways of thinking about how we do things.

"There is technology on the horizon that will change how we do things. There are business models that are changing the way we do things. But what is not changing is the focus on human needs," says Chow. "So we have to design that with an intelligent use of tech and business models."

The focus on human needs was a theme of yesterday's debate. In his opening remarks, Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai and current chair of the American Hospital Association, noted that historically nurses have always been at the forefront of the healthcare system, and will remain at the forefront even as healthcare delivery changes.

"It still comes down to the personal touch of the person providing care," said Priselac at the forum. "For the most part that personal touch comes from a nurse; they are quite simply the face of healthcare today."

The next stage of public discussion takes place on December 3 in Philadelphia and examines primary care, long-term care, community health, and public health. The third forum is on February 22, 2010 in Houston and will look at nursing education.

To be a part of the discussion, you can submit testimony for the committee's consideration—and potential presentation at a future forum—at www.iom.edu/nursing or by e-mailing nursing@nas.edu.


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Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at rhendren@hcpro.com.

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