Monday, May 9, 2011

Preparing Nurses for Accountable Care Organizations

Worth every penny
Regular readers know that the Disease Management Care Blog has an abiding respect for nurses. It can't help it. The DMCB has watched these health care providers comfort the ill, prompt overconfident physicians to reconsider, help families, save lives and be the only source of human warmth in hospital suites swarming with expertise, technology and blood.  Little wonder, then, that the DMCB has imbued these professionals with almost mystical organizational powers that can achieve any statistically significant outcome, fulfill any level of patient satisfaction and reduce any projected cost.  They, thinks the DMCB, are the mortar that holds the system's bricks together.

So, when the Feds came up with the star-crossed concept of the "Accountable Care Organization" (ACO), the DMCB assumed that the omnipotent nurses would come to their rescue.  Yet, while that's generally true, ACO wannabes may want to check out a more disciplined examination of the topic with this succinct three page Milliman Briefing Paper appropriately titled "The Nurse's Role in Accountable Care."

Basically, it's not going to be a matter of hiring some nurses and telling them to be accountable, caring or organizational. The nurses assigned to care coordination, disease management, coaching, outreach and transition planning are going to need to step beyond a traditional focus on the individual patient and acquire skills in communication, informatics, problem solving and helping patients across a "range of resources and entities."  They'll need to be comfortable with change management, data analyses and teaming.  Not only will the right individuals need to be assigned these tasks, organizations will need to carefully invest in their professional development.

The DMCB wholeheartedly agrees. That's because the training described above is exactly what is used for years by the population health and disease management companies for their new hires.

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