South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 22, 2019
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May 2010 - Volume 6 - Issue 11

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Reform the Now

You can’t watch the news, pick up a newspaper or even eavesdrop on a conversation these days without hearing about it: Health Care Reform. There are so many questions still up in the air – how will it affect doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc.? Change is imminent and so are the debates and discussions that come along with it. However, in the midst of all the uncertainty it is important that we, as health care professionals, remain focused on the single most important aspect of our career – quality care. We must not become complacent while waiting for the details of the reform to unfold. Though our processes may change, we must continue to evaluate and improve them as they stand today.

There are so many factors at play in our field right now, aside from the Health Care Reform Bill. For example: technology. Many of us are already converting to Electronic Medical Records. While this system will ultimately help us achieve improved continuity and safer care, there still exists some hesitation from physicians and nurses. Not to mention the costs associated with the conversion and concerns about protecting patient privacy. During these times of transition we must ask ourselves one question, "Is this better for the patient?" If the answer is yes, we move forward. It might be costly and it might be time consuming but we find a way to make it work.

The internet in general has played a big role in health care. While it has helped internal communication, especially in regards to continuous education, it has also provided an open forum for the consumer. Patients are more educated than ever and have more outlets to voice their opinion. It is the role of nursing to not just meet but exceed their expectations. We must anticipate their every need and answer questions before they are asked so that our knowledge and our opinions remain the expert; not the internet.

The economy may be getting better but times are still tough. The uninsured and underinsured continue to grow while health care costs increase and reimbursement rates decrease. The responsibilities of nurses don’t stop at patient care. No one knows the day to day operations better than us and therefore we must be involved in process improvement. We must seek out ways to be more efficient and resourceful. We need to research and evaluate different nursing delivery models to ensure our processes are as cost efficient as possible without hindering patient safety.

Another challenge in our near future is a shortage of nurses. As the "baby boomers" age and retire, we’ll start to lose them as employees and likely start seeing them as patients. It is critical that we compensate for that shortage by implementing pro-active recruitment programs as well as promoting nursing at higher education institutions. The responsibility falls on each and every one of us to tell the world why we are nurses and encourage young people to consider the career.

In times of change it is sometimes too easy to be distracted by the "new" – new processes, new programs, new challenges, etc. When those changes arrive we will face them with excitement and a positive outlook. However, while we wait for the "new" to reveal itself, we must continue to improve the "now."

Donna Small, Chief Nursing Officer, Broward Health North Broward Medical Center, can be reached at (954) 786-6954 or Dsmall@browardhealth.org.
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