Why nurses are essential to ACO implementation

The key to implementing accountable care organizations (ACOs) could already live in your institution--the registered nurse, according to an America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) article.

With today's expanded role of the nurse going beyond traditional responsibilities, nurses act as care coordinators, disease managers, data analysts, and process managers, among other things, according to the article.

As ACOs increasingly focus on improved care coordination and delivery, nurses may be the perfect fit for evaluating current resources and staffing levels, as well as solving problems effectively.

"Well-designed analytics are critical to clearly understanding the opportunities for improving outcomes, setting goals, and assessing downstream measures of progress in the ACO model," said Patty Jones, RN, MBA, in the article. "Nurses have the opportunity to play a role in accurately reviewing information about the targeted populations and identifying members who will be well-served by the organization's programs, as well as measuring progress."

In addition, a study last week in Health Affairs, noted that nurse managers, in particular, were essential to cutting down on hospital readmissions. Further, another study in Health Sciences Research last month concluded that when hospital units added more registered nurses, reducing RN overtime, readmission rates dropped.

While many leading hospitals and professional physician societies have criticized ACO rules and rejected participation, other major institutions have signed on, including the University of California, San Francisco. Many hospitals, providers, and other facilities are still figuring out how ACOs will translate to real life.

For more:
- read the AHIP article
- read the CaliforniaHealthline article

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