“Looking to Transform Healthcare? Ask a Nurse” – Did you read it?

iStock | KatarzynaBialasiewicz

iStock | KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Robert Szczerba, a contributor to Forbes, recently closed one of his articles with a line we couldn’t ignore: “if you’re looking to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, try talking to the people working on the front lines every day—talk to a nurse.” What can we say? We agree!

In his striking and inspirational piece, Szczerba argues that although nurse opinions and insights often can be overlooked, it’s nurses’ opinions on how to improve and change healthcare that should be sought out most. We knew this was a message you could get behind, and wanted to make sure it’s a story you didn’t miss!

Here are some excerpts from his article:

Traditionally, nurses have been the “face of healthcare” to the patient. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), the nursing profession involves the “protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.”

Unfortunately, due to the culture of the healthcare industry, nurses have usually taken a back seat to physicians and administrators when it comes to changing the policies and practices of optimizing care. However, there is a wealth of evidence that points to the vital and increasing leadership role nurses are taking in healthcare practices around the country. According to Teri Lynn Kiss, President of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), “Studies confirm that empowered nurses provide the best patient care.”

An important example:

Bolstering the case for that claim, in 2012, AACN began a national rollout of their Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy, a 16-month, hospital-based nurse leadership and innovation training program with teams of staff nurses from 42 hospitals in six regions. The program’s goal is to empower bedside nurses as clinician leaders and change agents whose initiatives quantifiably improve the quality of patient care and hospital bottom lines. Teams in Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, and Massachusetts have completed the program, and initial results point to anticipated savings of $21 million. (Teams in Pennsylvania and New York will finish by the end of 2014.)

Kiss summarized results from the four regions so far, saying that “on average, their nurse-driven initiatives decreased patient length of stay in ICUs and progressive care units by up to a full day. They decreased by one day the time patients needed support from a mechanical ventilator. And they cut in half ICU complications and infections.” To achieve these improvements, the CSI teams have taken on three challenges that often elude hospital staff: reducing skin pressure ulcers, preventing falls, and helping patients become mobile sooner.

The bottom line (hooray!):

The message to hospital administrators should be clear—if you’re looking to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, try talking to the people working on the front lines every day—talk to a nurse.

Read the whole story over on Forbes. Then, in the comments below, let us know what you think. Do you agree with Szczerba’s thoughts?

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One Response to “Looking to Transform Healthcare? Ask a Nurse” – Did you read it?

  1. earthey1

    It’s unfortunate that administration, the educated set of employees, needs to be informed that the worker bees know a little something about what they do and what needs to be done for process improvement. It’s also unfortunate that if and when they tap this ‘valuable resource’ it will be a free consultation as nurses are seldom compensated for their services above and beyond if even acknowledged. It would be nice if administration would also give credit where it is due, if that resource is tapped, rather than accepting as their own brilliant insight. All credit for ideas and new processes go to the manager of the creator as do bonuses awarded. As a former manager once informed me ‘you are only valuable to a company if you make them money or save them money’. If what you do for a company is not quantifiable, your value is not quantifiable either. Tough to include on your resume how much was saved by a company for money saving initiatives you helped to design and implement when you receive no credit. Tough to prove nurses have any influence on those initiatives when they receive no credit.

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