ACOs enhance career opportunities for nurses

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) and patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) may provide nurses with greater career options. In this Nurse Zone article, Milliman’s Patty Jones discusses some new roles opening up for nurses skilled in care coordination and data analysis.

Here is an excerpt:

“Accountable care and a lot of the initiatives coming out of health reform provide some interesting and new opportunities for nurses,” said Patty Jones, RN, [MBA], a principal at Milliman, a consulting and actuarial firm in Seattle, adding that the positions will take advantage of skills nurses already have and necessitate some to develop new talents.

…“For an accountable care organization to be successful, they are tasked with coordinating the needs of a member or a patient over a series of services and different levels of care over the course of time,” said Jones, explaining that efforts will focus on case managing smoother transitions between settings and ensuring the patient takes prescribed medications and follows through with appointments to avoid re-hospitalizations.

“This is a natural place for nursing and nurse leaders to use skills in terms of care coordination and assist the patient to reach out and get attached to other levels of care,” Jones said.

Newer emerging roles, Jones said, involve patient education and engagement. But the teaching must take place within the framework of the patient’s readiness to learn and motivation for changing to a healthier state.

“It’s a coming together of the science and psychology of nursing,” Jones said.

A third area of opportunity for nurses involves resource management at the patient and organization level, not something all nurses are skilled at or interested in.

“There are real opportunities for clinical leaders, nurses included, to be part of the financial and resource management discussion,” Jones said.

Additionally, nurses will need a population view, similar to a public health approach, to identifying and closing gaps in preventive care. However, it will require an analytic mind and comfort with data.

For more perspective on how healthcare’s changing landscape is affecting nursing professionals, click here.