Creating larger, more extremely trained medical employees will improve access to higher-quality, more patient-centered and more cost-effective care. That is especially important now: Demand for medical care is growing as the population ages and millions more individuals are entering the medical care program under the Affordable Care Act. Nurses, the largest segment of the medical care work force, provide critical care to our members, many of whom are aging and managing multiple chronic health issues.
That is why AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) jointly released the Center to Champion Nursing in America six years ago, to help the medical career better serve consumers. When a subsequent, groundbreaking Institute of Medicine (IOM) review called for transformation of the nursing career, AARP teamed up with RWJF to launch a nationwide strategy to implement the report’s recommendations. These focus on nursing education, practice, leadership, diversity, data, inter-professional collaboration and more. Since its creation three years ago, the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action has organized action coalitions, groups of nurses and health professional champions comprising business, government, academia, consumer groups, philanthropy and other sectors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The coalitions have so far jointly raised more than $6 million and released projects to advance nursing education, build the nursing workforce and expand access to nursing professionals and other advanced practice nurses. Seven states have removed major barriers to advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) practice and proper care, and one state has given gave APRNs full practice authority and expanded prescriptive power. Nine action coalitions, meanwhile, have been funded to test models to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses, a key IOM review recommendation. And leaders of national organizations comprising nursing education and community colleges have come together in support of nurses’ advancing the training and learning.
Most people reading this probably grew up in an age of paper medical care details, hand-written medications, and faxed or sent by mail test results. A common sight at many physicians’ office visit was a wall of patient files containing just this kind of details, all alphabetized and marked with little colored tabs. However, to younger visitors and what will certainly be the case for your children, this program of handling your medical care information will look like it belongs in a museum. In a world where you can do everything from book, to pay your takes and even call a cab online, the idea of depending on document records to arrange important elements of your medical care and also one of the biggest sectors in the United States seems ancient.
For decades now, medical care service suppliers have discussed the move from paper-based medical care information. Today, electronic medical care record techniques are finally becoming more popular. This is a pattern that has been growing over the past 10 years but that has significantly extended since 2009, when President Obama released the “Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act”, an incentive program to motivate medical care centers and patient care suppliers to look at digital medical care information. To date, the stimulation bundle has provided immeasurable dollars to over one hundred thousand qualified medical care centers and qualified patient care suppliers who have confirmed adopting, called “meaningful use,” of qualified EHR technology. Improvement is being made, for example, a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the number of medical care centers using some kind of EMR has tripled in the last three years, bringing the total utilization up to 44 percent of US medical care centers.
The conversion away from paper-based methods to digital medical care information, however, has not been easy, or quick. Part of the problem has less to do with technology and more to do with culture. Applying an EMR program means that patient care suppliers and other medical center staff have to go about their work in a different way than in a paper-based environment. Applying an EMR invariably has an effect on clinical process since a new part is being added between the patient and doctor and how the doctor is documenting the individual’s information and developing a plan of proper care.