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Can Nurses Fix Health Care?

Can Nurses Fix Health Care?

Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN | Scrubs Magazine

June 28, 2010

The United States spends more than any other country on health care, yet ranks dead last for access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity. Apparently, we’re not getting much bang for our buck.

Sadly, we’ve been in last place for awhile. The Commonwealth Fund analyzes and compares the health systems of seven industrialized countries each year — Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US was last in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010, despite spending almost twice as much per capita ($7290 vs. $3837 for the Netherlands).

Researchers observe that the universal health care systems in the other six countries encourage a close relationship between patients and a medical “home base.” Many are also ahead in the use of information technology, which can streamline patient care and improve diagnosis and treatment.

Interestingly, some Americans believe nurses can act as “home base” for patients here in the United States. A recent New York Times article detailed the efforts of one insurance company to cut costs. They did it by hiring nurses. According to the Times, the nurses “full-time job is to help patients with chronic diseases stay on top of their conditions, and, ideally, out of the hospital.” So far, it’s worked: hospital admissions are down 18 percent, while medical expenses decreased seven percent. Patients are pleased with the system as well.

What do you think of the “home base” idea? Do you believe nurses are key to real health care reform?


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