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Trends in Patient Care that will Affect Nurses in 2017

To thrive as care providers in the 21st century, nurses must not only have a solid educational background and advanced skill set but also be aware of the trends and changes taking place in health care. Agile nurses who are able to pivot their skills to flow with new developments, whether those are new electronic medical records systems or alternative care settings, will be the most successful. To help nursing professionals and students stay on track, here are some of the top trends in patient care to watch in 2017 and beyond:

A shift toward community-based nursing

Nurses used to being based out of a hospital are likely to find themselves working more and more in community-based settings in the coming years. One major cause for this shift is the growing number of baby boomers who are retiring and then choosing to receive care in home-based settings or at local providers instead of at larger institutions like hospitals, according to NurseBuff. With this change, nurses will play an important role in leading and developing patient care plans. This emphasis on moving care to settings that aging patients consider more comfortable and personable will only increase – by 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be over the age of 65, according to NursesRx.

The expansion of Accountable Care Organizations

Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs, will continue to change the nature of patient care. These groups of health care providers, from doctors to home health agencies, coordinate their efforts to make sure patients receive high-quality care while also reducing costs and the chance of medical errors occurring. As more health care providers continue to join forces and ACOs become increasingly prevalent, nurses will need to have greater flexibility as well as the ability to quickly switch between settings while ensuring consistency and quality of care.

Along with this change is the greater opportunity for nurses to collaborate with other health professionals, according to NursingWorld, and effective communication will be key to success. As Peggy Crabtree, RN and vice president of The Camden Group, told NursingWorld, new regulations and payment rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mean that the patient experience, particularly during transitions of care, is being more heavily factored into hospital reimbursement. This means that nurses will have “a bigger say in how care is provided to their patients,” according to the article. Nurses can have more fruitful collaboration and coordination with doctors to make sure the patient is receiving the highest level of care possible.

All about data

In 2017, interoperability is the name of the game. With all the different electronic health records systems that health care providers are using, along with the growing number of ACOs, being able to easily share data between care settings is paramount. And in addition to the ever-growing amount of data staff and clinicians are inputting into their systems, they’re also receiving a significant amount of self-reported health data. Digital patient portals, personal health devices, more coordinated care – these factors and more mean that health care agencies are dealing with unprecedented amounts of information. For nurses, this means that they’ll have to be adept at navigating these snowballing data piles, combing through them effectively and using EHRs and other systems with ease.

New fields come to light

NurseBuff specifically cites genetics and stem cell technology as two of the top fields for nurses to watch in the coming years. On the genetics side, there will be a greater demand for nurses who have the relevant experience working in areas related to genetic sequencing technology, for example, in-vitro fertilization. On the stem cell side, advancements are being made in how the method can be used in cancer treatments and in organ rehabilitation, according to the source. Specializing in stem cell-related areas can be a smart move for nurses looking to advance their careers in the coming years.

Higher demand for travel nurses

While community-based nursing is anticipated to grow in importance, travel nurses will also be in demand, according to NursesRx. The need for travel nurses was predicted to increase by 15 percent in 2016 and is expected to rise to 17 percent this year, according to insights from AMN Healthcare, the site reported. Demand is particularly high in so-called snowbird states such as Florida where retirees head in the winter.

Greater focus on preventative care

With changes to health insurance policies for many Americans, there has been a greater focus on public health education and preventative care methods so that individuals can lead healthier lifestyles and have fewer trips to the doctor’s office. From mindfulness and stress reduction to regular exercise and balanced eating tips on a budget, the importance of healthy habits is a message being promoted by many media outlets and public groups. Accompanying this movement is a greater need for public health nurses, according to NurseJournal. These nurses work with policy groups, think tanks, governments, schools, clinics, and other public settings to improve health education at both the local and national levels and work toward a healthier society.

Increased activity in population health management

As stated above, the focus of care is shifting from hospital-based settings to community settings. With this change, however, also comes a greater focus on population health management. By analyzing the health data of populations of various sizes, trends and problem areas can be identified and health providers can create more targeted care plans that respond to specific needs, a 2016 report by the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice explained. Nurses will play a larger role in working with other providers to recognize and respond to the needs of specific populations, particularly in rural areas, where the paper noted that nurses may be the sole health providers in the community. In the paper, NACNEP recommended that Congress invest greater funding into creating a “more comprehensive public health infrastructure in rural, frontier, inner city, and other underserved areas,” and nurses will certainly play a role in helping to develop this infrastructure.

Growing use of advanced technological tools

The most in-demand nurses will also have experience using or an enthusiasm to learn about new devices in health care. Nurses should familiarize themselves with portable devices and diagnostic tools in biomedical technology that can be used at point of care, according to NurseBuff, and should also receive training in computer-assisted surgery methods. In addition, telehealth devices will also be important to learn, particularly for nurses involved with population health management in rural or under-served communities.

By being in tune with new trends, nurses can be more in line with delivering the care that patients need and desire most. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Rutgers University can help professionals nurses meet these challenges and advance their careers – click here to learn more.


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